As if dog owners don’t have enough to worry about now owners of the trendy, tiny toy breeds need to worry about thieves stealing their ‘babies’ and ransoming them or reselling them. Pet stores are taking extreme measures to protect puppies from criminals.

From CTV News

Criminals targeting pricey, trendy toy dogs

Updated Sat. May. 19 2007 10:27 PM ET News Staff

Criminals Target Small DogsThe latest target for thieves and kidnappers are the pint-sized dogs made trendy by celebutantes like Paris Hilton.

The toy breeds like teacup poodles and yorkshire terriers are hard to breed and in demand.

Prices of US$1,600 or more for the tiny dogs are not unusual.

Because they are small, their owners can take them almost anywhere.

“They’re much easier to shove inside your jacket or into a bag,” said pet store manager Samantha Kaplan.

And if the owners can afford to drop thousands on a dog, pampering the pooch isn’t a problem either.

“I can pretty much say they get treated better than kids,” said dog groomer Karen Cutler.

However, those combination of factors — high-value, easily portable dogs; well-heeled owners — make them a target for dognappers.

Security cameras captured the theft of four yorkshire terriers in California from a family’s home by gun-toting bandits. Each dog was worth $2,500.

Two men have been arrested and face charges of residential robbery, grand theft and burglary.

Burglars in Illinois trashed one house, stealing electronics, jewellry — and the family’s pug Pixie. “We’re all heartbroken because he was part of the family,” said owner Doreen Deatrick.

Fortunately, police were able to retrieve Pixie. At one point, a reward of US$4,500 was offered, and one radio station hired a pet psychic.

At a Lombard, Ill. pet store, one clerk got punched in the face when trying to stop two men who stole a one-kilogram silky terrier. In a previous incident involving a silky terrier, the thief sprayed the clerk with mace.

Some pet stores have massively upgraded their security as a result.

The hot pooches are often resold, but in rare cases, some are held for ransom from their owners.

One woman was asked for $2,000 to get her little dog back. She was reunited with her pet after a third party intervened.

At a Montreal dog run, some say they’ve heard stories that sound an awful lot like dognapping to them.

“A friend lost sight of her dog in the part and someone called her up and said, ‘I have your dog. Bring a hundred dollars to old Montreal’,” said Ingrid Harrison.

In addition to putting owners on alert, the canine crime wave has created a growth industry in one area. Some are following Ace Ventura’s lead and hanging up their shingles as pet detectives.

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