Nearly two million pets are stolen each year, but only 10% are returned. And it seems things are just getting worse. A report from the American Kennel club shows Dog Thefts jumped by 32% last year.
Some breeds are taken for their value, others are taken during burglaries, some for dog fighting, and some are taken for no reason at all.
But one thing remains: a stolen or missing dog is extremely traumatic to the owner as well as the pet.
Precious pets are missing. Some have medical problems, others are entering the final years of their lives, others are just beginning. But some of these pets didn't run away-- they were stolen from their loving owners.
"That's our baby," said Beth Smith. One of those owners is Beth Smith, who says her daughters 8-year-old poodle "Angel" was stolen on the side of Beattie Road by two women driving a white car.
"I don't know why anyone would want to steal her other than she looks like a puppy," said Smith.
She's posted hundreds of fliers all across southwest Georgia, gone on TV, created a facebook page, contacted radio stations and is now offering a reward valued at almost $2,000.
"Take the money, take the reward and let us have our dog back," said Smith.
Angel has been missing for over a month but Smith says she's not giving up. "I'm going to look for her until she comes home," said Smith.
Sometimes these pets are taken during burglaries. Some are taken for their value, other's are taken to use for dog fights.
Albany Police say dog thefts are more common than most people think, but the number of pets stolen in Albany has gone down over the years, but the most common dog people steal here is the Pit bull.
"Some people cant afford dogs, so they steal," said Ronald Ponder. Ponder says five Pit bull puppies were recently stolen from his backyard. "They lifted up the bottom of the fence and took the puppies," he said.
The puppies were only a couple weeks old and Ponder and his fiancee were already attached. "I just miss them and want them back," Ponder said.
They hope to see their puppies again, but they fear they were taken for another reason. "I feel they got them for that reason-- to fight them," said Ponder.
"If we can just get the puppies back that is all that matters to us," said Ponder.
"That is terrible to take someone's family member away from them," said Dr. Steve Whatley.
Whatley says it's devastating for someone to deal with the loss of their pet, but there is no closure for an owner when a pet has been stolen, or has gone missing.
"We wonder where they are and how they are being treated, but that is something we wont know until we recover them," said Whatley.
Whatley recommends Micro chipping your pet, using surveillance cameras and get the word out as soon as possible.
"As if a child we kidnapped of another item was stolen get their pictures out," said Whatley.
In the meantime, Smith and Ponder remain hopeful. "I really feel the lord is going to send her home to us," said Smith.
They hope someone comes forward to claim their reward. "We have a $500 reward out for them but we haven't had no leads yet," said Ponder.
Because you can't put a price tag on your best friend.
If you think your dog was stolen, call police and report it. People will face charges if they steal a pet. Also, post your pets pictures on as many websites as possible, such as Facebook and Peanutsfriends.org.
If you have any information, you can call Beth Smith at 229-349-3334 and Ronald Ponder at 229-291-7277 or 229-364-5769.
The American Kennel CLub says the most-stolen dog of 2011 was the Yorkshire Terrier. The Pomeranian was second, followed by the Maltese, and Boston Terrier.
Small breeds are easily concealed, and Yorkshire Terriers can sell for upwards of $1,500 or more.
Purebreds aren't the only dogs at risk. Mixed-breed dogs are also targets, including Pit Bull Terriers and Pit Bull mixes.
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