Concern over spate of pet thefts in Northdale

2018-09-25 15:01

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Pet owners in Northdale are in fear that their puppies are falling prey to thieves, with several cases of stolen dogs being reported to activist organisations in the last three months.

Thieves are believed to be forcing puppies through gaps in gates, or lifting them over. The stolen dogs are then sold to people who are unaware they are buying a stolen dog, or for money by drug addicts, or even sold into dog fighting.

Pietermaritzburg Animal Rescue and Rehome (Parr), a local non-profit organisation, believes the problem is very serious, and that there are many cases of dog theft in the Northdale area going unreported.

Chavonne Chetty, who is involved with Parr’s lost and found network, said there have been several cases of stolen dogs in Northdale since March. “We are certain that they are being stolen and did not just run away because normally they are taken from secure properties. We warn people not to leave [puppies] out at night because they are easy targets.

“People steal puppies and take them to informal settlements and owners get called demanding money,” Chetty said.

She said Parr is able to network with several organisations to advertise missing dogs. “We also try to advise the owner to put proper information out there and to regularly check the SPCA.”

Shailen Sarabjit, a Bombay Heights resident, said his one-year-old puppy was stolen. “Our CCTV footage showed someone lifting him over the gate. We put pamphlets all over offering a cash reward.”

Sarabjit said he received a call from someone at a nearby informal settlement, and was able to retrieve the dog.

Another Northdale resident, Karishma Budhu, had her dog stolen from her home last month.

The four-month-old puppy, Mia, remains missing. “Our yard is secure so there’s no way she ran away,” she said.

“I have opened a police case and have plastered posters on pet stores, at the SPCA, and at vets.”

The Pietermaritzburg SPCA’s Alec Wylie said he was not aware of dogs from Northdale being particularly targeted. “We do see pet theft but I wouldn’t say it’s out of hand. People steal dogs for pitbull fighting and sometimes to re-sell them.”

Chetty, however, believed people were not reporting missing pets to the SPCA. “It doesn’t occur to a lot of people to notify the SPCA.”

Police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim encouraged the public to report incidents of pet theft. “A theft is a theft. We will investigate it, but if it’s not reported then we won’t know.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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