Article and photos by the NCPCA
Years ago, pet theft (mainly dogs) was linked to dogfighting, which is an illegal activity. That gave the impression that typical targets would be power breeds, such as American Pitbull Terriers, that were being snatched, but "mixed breeds" and smaller dogs were being taken too. The question is why? The power breeds are used for the purpose of illegal dogfighting and would be used in the fights themselves, as well as for breeding whereafter the puppies are sold to be used by other fighters. Shockingly, smaller dog breeds are sometimes used as "bait".
Over the past two years, there have been an increase in the number of reports about pet theft across the country. The NSPCA believes that these cases may be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, in addition to the dogfighting issue. As a result of more people being able to work from home, there was an increase in the demand for pets - dogs especially. This is because people may have been lonely in the isolation period of lockdown and wanted a pet companion, and also because many people now had the opportunity (in terms of time and being at home) to actually look after a pet.
The responsible and ethical thing to do in any scenario when one is looking for an animal companion is to adopt an animal from the SPCA or an animal welfare shelter. There are countless animals in serious need of a loving home and family. There is no doubt that one of those animals is a perfect match for you.
Animals from the SPCA are not stolen and can be adopted legally. Given that the majority of these animals are victims of abuse, the SPCA has an adoption process, an adoption application and an adoption contract that one would have to adhere to when adopting an animal. These measures have been put in place to ensure that the animal is never again subjected to the cruelty and suffering from which they have been rescued.
When members of the public want to avoid these necessary processes for adoption, or are looking for a specific "thoroughbred" animal, they look for a shortcut and opt to buy an animal from pet shops, breeders online etc. This is a major problem for a number of reasons including that by buying an animal, that member of the public has supported the growth of the breeding industry which may be inherently cruel. The animals that are bred are often subjected to inhumane living conditions and treatment. That member of the public has confirmed there is a demand and has encouraged the breeding of more animals to be sold.