I was 15 years old when my parents allowed me to have another dog in my life. Frisco was only 3 months old and was the coolest little thing. I was dogless for a few years, so one can imagine the excitement I felt when Frisco came into my life.
Everyone in the neighborhood fell in love with him. When I’d take him out for walks, people would randomly ask me if I would sell Frisco. I could never tell if they were joking, so I would just play along. “Frisco, my mutt-dog you can find at any shelter? Give me $1,000,000 and he’s yours,” I joked.
All the younger kids would come knocking at my door, everyday, begging to play with Frisco. The whole neighborhood knew who I was and never hesitated to acknowledge Frisco as the neighborhood dog. He was everywhere I was.
“Is he a Pit Bull? Wait, he kind of also looks like a Boxer. What is he?” — “He’s a dog. That’s all that matters,” I would tell them.
Certain individuals that lived in my neighborhood would also tell me if I ever became interested in breeding or fighting Frisco to let them know. It was always the same bunch, too. This part of owning a dog was new to me. No one had made me feel so uneasy owning a dog. Around this time is when I also realized I lived in a community where Pit Bulls were seen as status symbols.
One regular Sunday, I left Frisco alone in the backyard, as always, while we attended mass. Our yard was completely gated. There was nothing easy about getting into our yard unless you deliberately made the attempt (like me forgetting my house key).
I had the day planned after church. I was going to take Frisco to the park for some much needed training. But as we made our way back home and up our driveway, I knew he was gone.
Someone, or something, knocked our gate over. Frisco was a strong little pup, but still, there was absolutely no way my skin-and-bone puppy could have done that. Or could he?
Desperately calling his name, I made sure he wasn’t asleep, or possibly ill, laying somewhere where I couldn’t see him. Once I determined he wasn’t on the premise, I started looking for clues.
His collar miraculously laid on his bed, where he was probably asleep when he was snatched.
At this point, I was mad at everyone in my neighborhood. We’re all so good at keeping a look out! How could someone let this happen? I had so much assurance in my people! They failed me.
It was Sunday, the animal shelter was closed, so I knew if Frisco was indeed loose roaming the streets, it would be a car or a new family that gets him.
I quickly got on my skateboard while my parents drove around the neighborhood looking for Frisco. I went door to door asking everyone if they’ve seen anything. Thirty minutes and zero leads later, I knew I had to step it up because it would only be a matter of time before someone finds my puppy.
10 minutes later, I had a couple hundred posters (computers and Photoshop do wonders) and passed them to all my friends with skateboards. I told them to staple them to every single tree. We managed to cover 3 square miles before sundown.
After an hour of doing that, me and my friend (friend didn’t live on my street) finished in front of a house that gave me an eery feeling. I had a few run-ins with these people in the past about my dog (stuff I mentioned earlier). I told my friend, “My gut is telling me they’ve got Frisco,” and without hesitation my friend runs up to their door and staples a lost dog poster to their wooden door… pop, pop. Two good staples.
My friend was a lot braver than I was as kids. However, he also didn’t live on my street. He didn’t understand that I live here and I would have to deal with the repercussions of stapling a piece of paper to these people’s door–people the whole neighborhood wanted nothing to do with. I ran and hid in my house, hoping for a call to come in… from anyone.
Not even 10 minutes passed when a lady I’ve never seen before knocks on the door. She was holding Frisco like a baby. She said my dog was in “her backyard.” She pointed to the house with the wooden door that was decorated with two industrial staples. She said she walked out to her backyard and there he was, sleeping. Her house didn’t have any fencing on the property, so I kind of believed her.
I didn’t want to speculate because I was dealing with people that can cause a lot of harm to a family, so I thanked her and snatched my boy back from her hands. Not once did she ask me why the poster had been stapled to the door. I was kind of hoping she didn’t because I didn’t have a good enough explanation; other than the fact I felt “you” stole my dog and you need to know I know.
I knew she knew because no one gets away with stapling a poster to a wooden door. So I guess I kind of thank my friend. This was a way of confronting someone, and not cause too much of a physical confrontation. Though it could have easily gone that way, I guess they felt it wasn’t worth opening a can of worms for a mutt.
I tried to live the next few days telling myself Frisco broke out on his own, but I couldn’t bring myself to it. I knew for a fact he was stolen from our yard. It made me angry. I was mad at the world. I was mad that we had to live on the same street with these thugs. I wanted to get even. I was going psychotic basically.
I was the luckiest dog owner in the world that day. To have been dealt the experience with no serious loss, makes me very lucky. The experience turned me into a better dog owner. My dogs’ safety and well-being is never overlooked till this very day. I know how people are. We all live life thinking we’re immune to so many things. The things we hear happening on the news can never happen to us. But we all learn to appreciate life and the things in it a little more when it comes around to bite us. I can’t tell you how horrible I felt thinking I was never going to see my dog again. The world was going to owe me that day.
I later found out through the grapevine, that backyard where Frisco magically decided to nap at, was indeed the yard he was suppose to die at. Their plans were to use him as a bait dog.
Things You Should Never Do
- Never confront the person who has possession of your dog in a confrontational manner. For one, the person with your dog probably wasn’t involved in the dognapping; however, you do want to contact the authorities immediately to find out. Second, people who steal aren’t the most reasonable people to have a discussion with about your stolen property, so why bother?!
- Never steal the dog back. Jumping into someone’s yard or breaking into someone’s house to claim what’s yours should never be a solution. Again, contact authorities and supply them with information of ownership so they can get to work. Sometimes you have to improvise if you feel your dog is about to go mobile; just remember, people that steal aren’t the most sympathetic.
- BONUS* Only staple lost dog posters where legal–I almost got a ticket for stapling posters on a few trees that were off limits.
Things You Should Do
If you find your dog with someone else:
- In some states, dogs are considered property. If you spot someone with your dog, that “property” must be returned to the rightful owner (you). One must of course provide proof of ownership: microchip, state pet license, Veterinary paperwork, pictures, anything that constitutes ownership of the dog in question. Always contact the authorities to open a case. Some states, unfortunately, don’t constitute dognapping as a crime.
- Where authorities are of no help, try and convince the person who has possession of your dog they were stolen. Provide proof of ownership and explain to them that this could result in a lawsuit. Lawsuits like these can go either way so try and resolve it amicably without going to court–even if you’re 100% owner of the dog, I’ve read court documents where stolen dogs never made it back home. Stolen dogs/puppies are always flipped for quick cash. The oblivious owner will try their hardest not to loose their family member, either. It really is a double edged sword in these cases. Judges try and find out if the original owner provided proper containment and monitoring for the dog. They will work against the original dog owner, in most cases.
- In the event a stolen dog ends up in the shelter system and gets adopted out, makes cases like these even more difficult because the dog’s new owner legally adopted the dog. By law, the dog’s new owner doesn’t have to return the dog; again, try and resolve these situations through sympathy and putting your dog’s new owner in your dilemma.
- If you shared a dog with a soul mate, and that relationship comes to an end, these can be the toughest of cases. It doesn’t matter who’s spent more money on the dog; whoever has legal ownership of the dog (adoption paperwork, AKC papers, etc.) will always be rewarded ownership. If both names are registered for the dog, then it will come down to who has provided more for the dog—or who can prove they can continue to provide for the dog. Again, dogs are property in some states, so be sure to assert ownership in any partnership to avoid these kind of complications.
- If you are contacted by someone seeking ransom for your stolen dog, contact authorities immediately. These kind of cases are a bit more enticing to authorities because this kind of extortion could be part of a sophisticated scheme.
Searching for a stolen dog:
- Post lost dog posters everywhere, where legal. Pet stores, veterinary offices, local parks, dog parks, gas stations and super markets.
- Inform your friends on social media. A friend of yours could have seen your dog at a friend of a friend’s party. Spread the word.
- Encourage your community to help by offering a reward for information leading to your dog. Monetary rewards get people talking.
- Think straight and trackback steps and patterns. Your dog could have escaped out of the house or yard. Check out these Lost & Found Dog Tips.
- Call the animal shelter–if your dog escaped, there’s a good chance Animal Control already collected the animal.
- Investigate your neighborhood on a daily basis–mornings, evenings, and nights.
- Try and remember if you’ve ever come across individuals who have shown a strong interest in your dog (a weird kind of interest).
- Always check Craigslist.org. Visit the “for sale” section in all surrounding counties. Dogs who are stolen are rarely kept. Dogs thieves are always after young dogs who can be turned into a quick sale. The second most popular kind of dogs on their lists are intact dogs who can be used for a breeding program.
I would love to hear about your stories, if you have one.
Were you able to recover your dog? If so, I would love to hear what you did to get your furry-kid back.