Dog Theft Scam


dog thefts

Unfortunately we are all too accustomed to hearing about scams. But here is a dog theft scam that all pet parents need to be aware of: People impersonating animal control officers who take your pet from your backyard under the auspices of their law enforcement position.

Here’s what you need to know to keep your dog or cat safe.

What Happened

In August, a number of dog owners called the Hamblen Humane Society of Morristown, Tennessee to report their dogs missing. In fact, 10 dogs went missing all around the same time.

Apparently what happened was that people claiming to be animal control officers were going into yards and stealing the family pet.

The yard – this is where you should feel comfortable that your pet is safe. It’s your property. And these thieves are trespassing to take a family member.

Of Neighbors and Canines

According to a report on the WBIR website, a number of neighborhoods in the Morristown area have suffered from a rash of doggie thefts in a short period of time.

And it appears that the dogs targeted in these neighborhoods include small and toy breeds as well as purebreds. Thieves may be targeting small and toy breeds because they fit into a car easier and are less conspicuous than taking, say, a Great Dane.

What to Do

Here is where banding together with your neighbors is a great idea as well as mounting some nanny cams in the neighborhood.

Having a neighborhood pet watch is something that saved one family’s dog. A neighbor saw someone taking her neighbor’s dog and confronted him. That stopped the theft and she reported it to the humane society.

First, there is no reason for animal control to take a pet in a yard without notifying the owner. If you see someone who claims to be animal control and they aren’t wearing the requisite uniform or driving a truck with the animal control emblem on it, call the police immediately.


Why do canine thefts happen? Sadly, thieves sell purebreds online to make money or they may pose as class “B” dealers and sell the dogs to labs for research. Some are stolen and used as bait dogs. However, as to why these dogs from Morriston, TN were stolen is uncertain.

Is this something that’s isolated to this area of Tennessee? No, not at all.

Back in the mid-1990s, a rural area in eastern Virginia saw a rash of thefts of black labs. Again, just minding their own canine beeswax in their own yards. These dogs, it was discovered, were sold to laboratories. And the thieves didn’t even bother to impersonate animal control officers.

Keeping Them Safe

It’s sad to think that we have to worry about our family members being taken from our own yards but that’s what this has come to for now.

For you readers who live in areas where you can leave your dog out in a fenced yard during the day while you’re at work … or even when you’re home … you may want to change that behavior for a while.

Leave your pet inside your home. If you’re concerned about accidents, confine her to an area that’s easy to clean up like a kitchen or mudroom.

Beware of impersonators. Be proactive. If you see someone in your neighborhood you don’t know and who act suspiciously, write down their license plate and call the local sheriff or police.

You may just save the life of a pet and eliminate the anguish of losing a treasured family member to a predator.

Reference links:–taking-dogs/32440173/

Image: iStock


Gerald Owens, has a vision – to create an online community that embraces all aspects to having and caring for pets. Our mission is to provide pet “guardians” with accurate, relevant information on how to have happier and healthier animal companions.