Stealing dogs – the new crime trend in town?
GRAAFF-REINET — From reports on social media, it would seem as though there has been a spike in the theft of dogs in the Graaffreinet area, and there is concern that these dogs are stolen for dog fighting- either small dogs to be used as bait in training, or bigger dogs for fighting.
According to police statistics, only three cases have been opened with SAPS in the last financial year, so it seems as though many owners do not open cases, for whatever reason.
Brig Rudolph Adolph, Cluster Commander of Graaff-reinet SAPS, would like to urge all pet owners to open cases when animals are stolen, as it will give a more accurate reflection of the problem.
Resources can then be allocated to assist in this area.
Many dogs have also been reported missing in recent weeks, either escaping when gates are inadvertently left open or sometimes running off when they are scared of fireworks or thunder.
Erma Voigt of CSI recently shared her frustration at the difficulties of restoring lost dogs to their owners. “In my almost 20 years of being a dog owner myself, and having extensive dealings with dog owners from all walks of life, my experience has been that the first thing that truly responsible dog owners do is to put means of identification on their dog. Then, in the unlikely event of the dog getting lost, it will be easy for anyone finding it to reunite it with its rightful owner”.
However, Voigt feels that in Graaffreinet, particularly in the Horseshoe area, many people do not see the need to put an ID tag on the dog’s collar- if it even has a collar. When she has confronted people about this, she often gets the response that yes, the dog roams, but it always comes home.
“What if one day it does not come home? It gets stolen, picked up by a concerned person who unsuccessfully tries to find the owner and decides to keep it and care for it, or gets knocked over by a car? Will you even worry? Will you even care? Will you contact your local animal shelter and look for it?” says a frustrated Voigt.
She continues by challenging those people who do not see the need to put identification tags on their animals to consider those who get involved in finding the dog and reuniting it with its owner.
If a call is made to the SPCA, the person on standby will often have to leave their own family to go to open up the kennels to house a stray animal that has been reported or brought in by a concerned animal lover. After all this effort, these animals are often never claimed by their owners.
“Concerned people finding a stray dog often go to a lot of trouble to try and find the owners: posting on social media, making flyers and putting them up at various points and in post boxes, contacting local vets, and contacting local shelters,” said Voigt.”
All this time, effort and trouble could have been avoided by a simple collar and ID tag”. These tags are available from the local SPCA for only R30, but it seems as though this is too much effort for many people.
Another, more permanent, option is to have the dog microchipped by a vet, a relatively inexpensive procedure of which not everyone is aware. Microchips cannot be removed and instantly identify the owners when scanned, and unlike a collar, cannot be lost or removed. The combination of a microchip and ID tag is ideal.
Voigt would like to address the following to those she considers irresponsible owners: “I sometimes find the owner of a stray dog, reunite them and urge the owner to put a collar and ID tag on their dog, which I am promised will be done. Then a week or two later, I find the same dog in the street again, take it to the owner and inquire about the promised ID tag- only to be told by the owner that they “haven’t got around to it yet”. Then a month later your dog is STILL roaming the street without any identification, so I pick it up, take it to the vet, buy a collar that fits nicely, buy an ID tag from my own pocket and put it on YOUR dog, because I have learned, if you didn’t care enough to start with, you probably never will”.
The contact numbers for the Graffreinet SPCA are 049 891 0256 (office) and after hours 083 641 9180. The office manager is Doug de Klerk.