Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dear Neighbors: We Have a Dog Theft Problem

Dear Shreveport-Bossier and neighbors:

We have an animal control problem.  There is an epidemic of pet theft and dog-napping happening right under your nose.  It seems like every day I hear of someone whose dog has been stolen right out of their own yard or car.  What in the hell is going on?

Yesterday, a woman in Highland let her dog out into her fenced backyard and in ten minutes someone opened the gate, snatched the dog, and drove off.

In September a woman's Pomeranian was snatched in Highland:
Lindsey Combest says she didn't see the abduction herself, but a witness tells her that someone in a white 4-door truck pulling lawn care equipment picked her dog Wesson up near the corner of College St. and Centenary St. "It happened in about 15 seconds."
Also in Highland:
Joe Young says he put his 3-year-old terrier Dixie outside on a clip in his Highland neighborhood yard last week, and "45 minutes later the dog was gone." He asked neighbors in the area, thinking that the dog had just gotten loose, and learned there might have been something more sinister behind his pup's disappearance. "I found out that my dog had been picked up by a woman in a reddish-colored Jeep-type vehicle." He says a neighbor told him that they saw the dog-napping happen. "It makes me angry mostly. A dog-napper has got to be one of the worst kinds of person, I mean that's next to kidnapping as far as I'm concerned."
In Bossier Parish five boxer puppies were stolen.

There are countless reports of stolen -- not lost -- dogs on social media.

The Shreveport Pets section of Craigslist has at least a dozen pitbulls for sale right now; those ads often include a photo of the worn out, over bred mother to prove the dog's "champion blood line." There are other breeds there too: Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, an Akita....

There is a huge dog fighting problem in our area and almost certainly the rash of stolen pets is linked to this problem.

In January 2014 Jody Lowery with KTBS reported on the local dog fighting epidemic:
 Just last November, the SPCA found 16 pit bulls at a property in Gregg County, thought to have been used in dog fighting. Those dogs are said to be linked to an August multi-state bust involving Texas. It was the second largest in history where 367 dogs were originally rescued across the South. Then in March, two people were arrested in East Texas and nearly 100 dogs seized.
Lowrey points out that this area is perfect landscape for dog fighting because of all our rural areas and piney woods.  Lots of places to hide.  This is a nasty business that the perpetrators would like to keep hidden; it comes with a variety of other crimes.  Drugs, gambling, theft top the list.

Just two months after Lowery's report, a dog-fighting ring in Sabine parish was discovered:

Ten people were arrested in Sabine Parish over the weekend, accused of dog fighting. 
Saturday, around 11:00 p.m., the Sabine Parish Sheriff's Department along with several deputies from the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Departed, executed a raid on a suspected dog-fighting operation on Hicks Drive. 
Two pit bulls were reportedly in the pit at the time of the raid. The dogs were taken to the Sabine Animal Shelter. Their condition as well as the condition of other animals on the property are unknown at this time. 
According to the Many Police Department's Facebook page, ten people, from as far away as Gibsland, Louisiana, were arrested and two juveniles were also at the scene. 
What police found there was horrible.

This is a real problem in our area and it's past time we faced it and did something about it.

There seems to be a number of factors contributing to this problem:

1.  The laws and penalties are not severe enough; the laws on the books are not clear enough.

2.  Dog-fighting is so secret and so hidden that not enough of the right people know it's a problem.

3.  It's a horribly unpleasant subject and any article about it often comes with graphic photos of abused and mutilated dogs; nobody wants to see that.  (How often do you change the channel or mute the TV when those poor shelter dogs look at you through cages while Sarah McLaclan's ASPCA commercial comes on?  Hell, even she changes the channel!)

4.  It's dangerous to get too involved in exposing these rings; this is big money.  These people are serious.

So, what can we do about this?

First, learn about what's going on. Pay attention in your neighborhood and learn who your neighbors are and their pets.

Monitor social media sites such as Shreveport/Bossier Lost and Found Pets or Lost and Found Pets Shreveport/Bossier on Facebook.  If they're stealing dogs in your neighborhood, you'll probably hear it there first.

Do not leave your dogs unattended outside.  If you work and you have a dog that stays outside during the day be sure your gates are locked and your neighbors can help keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

Be part of your neighborhood - help watch for suspicious vehicles or suspicious activity.  If you see someone stealing a dog, call 911 just like you would if you saw someone breaking into a house.

Educate yourself.  The Animal Legal Defense Fund is an excellent resource and has a great section on Pet Theft.  Follow them on Facebook.

Many of these stolen dogs are used for bait dogs.  Like many people, I knew what a bait dog was, but it wasn't until a few months ago when I helped rescue a starved, abandoned dog that I learned what really happens to bait dogs.  This dog had odd indentions on his tail that looked like a rubber band had been left on it for too long.  I assumed someone had tried docking his tail with a rubber band; the vet tech told me that dog fighters tie the dog's tail to a stake in a dog fighting ring so he can't get away.

This dog had defense wounds all over his face and legs; his ears were chewed all along the edges, and he was starved.  His feet were flat because he had never the proper nutrition necessarily for the bones in his feet to develop properly.

And still this dog was full of love and trust for the human that rescued him.

This dog was a bait dog in Bossier City.

We must do something about this problem in our area.  We have to lobby our legislators to strengthen the laws and up the penalties.  I firmly believe that the jury in the Braveheart trial came back with a verdict of "Simple Animal Cruelty" against abuser Gabriel Lee because the difference between "Simple" and"Aggravated Animal Cruelty" was just one word - intent.  The distinction between the misdemeanor and the felony was too close to distinguish.

This must be changed.  The language must be rewritten.

Not everyone is a dog lover; I get that.  But this is a real problem in our community and has ramifications for us all.  The thieves that steal dogs are horrible people that will go to any lengths to protect their cash source.  They are dangerous.

Go here and get started.


Mike Thiac said...

Pat, yesterday I had a disgusting look at a serious problem.

Yesterday I responded to a disturbance at our city dog shelter. A couple (I would say late 50s) had been evicted the day before and where not at the house when the constables served the eviction. And they had 12 dogs in the house, basically Pit Bull mixes and these POSs are running a dog mill. Anyway, the dog shelter comes out and takes possession.

Fast forward to Friday and the "concerned parents" are causing a disturbance at the shelter office because they are told they have to pay a fee to get the dogs back. Because the dogs are not registered there is no record of any shots so our staff gives them some basic inoculations (Rabies, etc). The shelter pays for that and per night shelter fee. And these people went ballistic.

After seeing two cops on the floor they calmed down and paid the fee for four of the dogs. Strange, people on disability had a serious wad of cash in the pockets, but I won't go there. And I'll lay money they will leave the remaining 8 at the shelter. Sucks.

Pat Austin said...


That's awful. The only hope those remaining at the shelter have is that a rescue pulls them. Most shelters don't adopt out pitbulls because of the breed and they have an extremely high euthanasia rate. Depending on how no-kill the shelter is, they could be pulled by a rescue.

No doubt they were breeding, as you say, and that's of course part of the problem. Backyard breeders and dog fighters make me ill.

Anonymous said...

a public flogging would be appropriate.