SWAKOPMUND - An increase in stolen puppies, plus that of certain breeds of dog has given rise to new fears that underground dog fighting rings and dog thief syndicates have sprung up, with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) warning pet owners across the country to be vigilant with their animals.
Rewards for as much as N$10 000 have been offered by heartbroken owners for the return of their stolen pets, in particular the recent case of a pit bull “Diesel” that was stolen in Swakopmund a week ago, where dog theft is on the rise.
The pit bull in particular is a breed used in dog fighting rings worldwide and earns high stakes for gangs, whilst breeding these dogs in cruel backyard conditions is another matter of concern for the SPCA who have translated the reward poster for “Diesel” into Oshiwambo and Damara.
“Dog theft is real and happening on a regular basis with an alarming increase in recent weeks,” said Swakopmund SPCA spokesperson Theresa Badenhorst, claiming that syndicates are also using children to steal dogs either while owners are asleep at night or away from their homes during the day.
“We’ve had three reported cases last week, but luckily two dogs were found with the assistance of the police, with the two minors involved confessing to the police that the stolen thoroughbred Rottweiler puppy was intended to be sent up to Angola for dog fighting.”
“Dogs disappear without a trace and are hidden in unknown locations, until they can be transported to their destinations,” Badenhorst continued, saying that breeds such as pit bulls, Staffies, Rottweilers, Boerbulls, German Shepherds are especially at risk of being stolen. However other breeds big or small are also targets, to be used as bait for dog fight training - even cats. Roadblocks and border posts have been alerted about stolen dogs leaving the country.
Meanwhile the selling and trading in sickly puppies on the streets and in shopping centres is also becoming a lucrative cash business for gangs of unemployed youths who dangle half lifeless puppies to the public going about their daily business.
Puppies and stolen dogs are sold for as little as N$50 just to make a quick buck to put food on the table, while exotic breeds such as Huskies with high resale value are gaining attention. In the township areas X-breed “braks” are easy target with kids selling these puppies to Chinese construction workers who fuel the dog meat trade.
New Era spoke to an undercover Nampol police reservist who is working the beat and pointed out that kids are also being sent out by drug pushers to steal particular types of dogs from people’s yards.
“Dog theft is on the rise all over the country and minors are used to do the dirty work, with such dogs either being sent to Angola for fighting, used for breeding, or kept by drug gangs to protect their yards from people entering,” said the officer.
“To avoid the identification of the dog being detected, these gangs even use hair dye to change the colour of the dog’s coat.”
Commenting on this escalating problem, Sylvia Breitenstein (manager SPCA Windhoek) confirmed the recent reports of Boerbulls, pit bulls and Rottweilers that are presumed stolen, saying this could be the work of syndicates.
She explained that in previous years pure bred dogs would come into the country via South Africa, but since dog breeding has cottoned on in the lower income brackets as a cash spinning sideline , puppies are being churned out in every backyard, and are easier to steal.
The fate of dogs heading for the dog fighting gangs is horrific cruelty and the police are urged to intervene, whilst most of the time puppies that change hands on street corners die of Parvo because they haven’t received their first immunisation shots, and in many cases are taken from their mothers too early.
Advice from the SPCA is the following:
• Do not leave puppies alone outside when you are not home;
• Put padlocks on your gates and make sure your dogs cannot get out of your yard;
• Report any strangers or unusual movements in your neighbourhood to the police and if you suspect your pet has been stolen, report it to the SPCA, Nampol and NHW;
• Put posters up and don’t stop searching;
• When you do find your dog and are suspicious, open a case at Nampol, do not just leave it there!! Also inform the SPCA;
• Talk to and get to know your neighbours and their pets;
• If you have any information about stolen dogs, please contact the SPCA.
New Era Reporter
2019-03-05 09:44:41 | 8 months ago