SILVER LAKE (CBSLA.com) — Pet thefts are on the rise in Los Angeles and around the country, according to the American Kennel Club.
Millions of pets are stolen annually nationwide. In Los Angeles, nearly 500 dogs were reported stolen just last year.
Silver Lake resident Jill Brewer said she thought losing her companion, Bing, would never happen.
One day, however, she got the surprise of her life.
“He got out of the yard and within five or 10 minutes, he was gone,” said Brewer. “I didn’t know where he was. And I got a call because someone read his tag with my number on it. And they said, ‘I got your dog, how much money do you have?’ I was shocked because normally, when you find someone’s dog, you want to help them get it back.”
Brewer said she immediately called the police.
“They said, ‘Ma’am, this is just stolen property. It’s no big deal. Calm down. What do you want from us?’ (That) kind of thing,” she said.
Brewer was concerned about Bing’s safety.
“I was worried about his welfare. What they might do to him,” she said. “Bing was gone for three or four days, but it felt like an eternity. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep.”
Brewer said a friend told her to contact Chris DeRose at Last Chance for Animals, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation.
“(DeRose) knew I had the guys number…he talked to him and something that he said persuaded him…the guy called me back the next morning and said, ‘Oh, it’s a miracle! I found your dog!” said Brewer.
DeRose told CBS2’s Rick Garcia that Brewer isn’t the only pet theft victim out there.
“No matter where you live, you could be a target, especially when people see that a dog is well taken care of or a specific breed of dog that may be popular in that area,” he said. “A lot of them go to medical research. There are dogs that are stolen for bait in dog fighting, they’re stolen for food.”
DeRose continued, “We’ve even had cases where they were stolen for jackets. Doberman’s, years ago, were being stolen and killed and processed right here in downtown LA.”
Last Chance for Animals, which has been around for 30 years, mostly spearheads investigations to support a cruelty-free environment for animals.
DeRose said they also campaign to help build a safer environment for pets.
The organization introduced the “Pet Safety and Protection Act” to prevent the selling of dogs and cats for use in laboratory research.
For more information on pet safety, visit the American Kennel Club or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.