On September 21, 2021, Josie, a one -and -a -half -year -old French bulldog, was kidnapped in the Bois de Vincennes by a couple in their 60s. there were a dozen other dogs.They were all separated.Josie approached a beautiful couple in their 60s and played with them for a few minutes.The teacher turned around for a moment and when she turned around, she saw the couple far away left with Josie, “said its owner, Anthony, a hairdresser in his thirties.
Four days later, the animal was found in a tree in Aisne, more than 100 kilometers from Vincennes. “I was called by a veterinarian who said the walkers were bringing Josie to him, that they had found her in the woods. They were barbecuing, the dog approached them, he was tired, he no longer had a collar and he was covered in steps, ”the young man continued.
Is it a network of dog thieves? If the investigation stopped when Josie found her owner, for Nathalie, the vice president of the Animal Protection Brigade (BPA), an association mostly made up of police volunteers and gendarmes, the little that dog is stolen through “opportunism”, the most common theft. . “These are the people who pass by, who see dogs alone in a forest or tied up in front of a business, they take them, they tell themselves they can sell them for a few hundred euros “, explained the female police officer. “It’s usually just because the opportunity is on its own. They stole a dog like they stole a wallet, ”confirmed another police source.
For Catherine, the founder of an association that specializes in tracking down these stolen dogs: “It’s not a mafia, it’s ordinary people, it can be anyone, an 18-year-old, a couple or a mother who wants to spend ”.
Some thieves are more organized and do not hesitate to steal canids directly from the owners ’gardens or in cars or even halfway. “We have seen an increase in wallet thefts. They even cut the leash, threatened or beat the owners with a gun during the walk to retrieve the animal. These thefts are even more brutal ”, Nathalie explained. This is the case of Océane, 24, who was violently beaten and dragged to the ground within a few meters by two men who stole Ryuk, his six-month-old American Bully, in March 2021 in Villiers-sur-Orge (Essonne ), a different. which can cost and “up to 10,000 or 15,000 euros”.
Some dogs have contracts in their heads. “Some thieves need a specific dog, a different one, a color. They employ sponsors, who introduce the animal, to the owner, during times when he is away, sometimes even on the road. And then they put a guard at the house to go and steal the dog without the owner, ”the BPA vice president explained. If there are kidnappings in organized networks, it is a “marginal phenomenon”, nuance, in part, the national police.
Some stolen dogs are immediately sold on the Internet, “usually in less than 24 hours”, Catherine specifies, but others are used for breeding. “They steal dogs that are not microchipped and not sterilized to breed and resell the puppies in the back, which cannot be traced,” Nathalie explains. And for good reason, like breeders and thieves, the business is very lucrative. If the dogs were sold for between 1,500 and 3,500 euros from professionals, thieves could recover up to 10,000 for some litter of popular breeds.
Among them, small dogs such as the Spitz Dwarf, the Chihuahua, the Yorkshire or the French Bulldog or more attractive dogs, such as the Staffie, the American Staffordshire Terrier or the American Bully. “These are different trends that are stolen,” said the national police, noting that this violation carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a fine of € 45,000.
But between owners who have not filed a complaint and those whose animals have fled, it is “difficult to count accurately” thefts of dogs in France, the national police estimates. Other associations, they incur 75,000 thefts each year – a number that is even impossible to prove. In 2020, the ADA (Animal Disappearance Alert) Facebook page received 267 reports of dog theft, 269 in 2021, according to Nathalie, who focused on the alerts. Volunteers even created a map of France to identify flights throughout the territory.
Identification, the key to finding the animal
“It’s become more quick money”, continues Catherine, whose business has grown tremendously over the past five years, and especially during her incarceration.
“During this time, purchases and adoptions have increased. Inevitably, if there are too many requests, the dog theft market will explode,” said the BPA vice president, noting that the sale of animals is the third traffic behind of weapons and narcotics. “As they could no longer enter the houses because everyone was in the house, the thieves fell on the animals in the gardens”, said Catherine.
Animal protection actors are formal: identification and sterilization remain the best means of protection against theft. “An uncut dog is very hard to find, it divides the opportunities. It’s the same with sterilization, a sterilized female dog is less interested in thieves for breeding,” Nathalie explains. what Anthony allowed to see little Josie, who had been sterilized and cut: “Besides, she’s not pure, she’s useless to thieves, so they’re‘ stopped ’.