2 French bulldogs stolen in DC region days apart. Is this a pattern for thieves?

In the D.C. region and around the nation, there have been more and more stories of French bulldogs being stolen — in some cases, by force. In the past week, two French bulldogs were stolen in the D.C. area.

A D.C. woman was reunited with her puppy Tuesday, days after the 6-month-old dog was stolen from her doorstep. Another victim in Fairfax County, Virginia, is still searching for her dog, Queen, who was taken during a burglary on Monday.

Why does it seem criminals are targeting these pups in particular?

Dan D’Eramo, director of field operations for the Humane Rescue Alliance, said it’s probably due to both the fact that they are the most popular breed in America and worth a lot of money, depending on how they look. Some can sell for thousands of dollars.

“As with any valuable item — if you want to put it so bluntly for a living thing — people are going to take notice, and it can potentially become a target,” he said.

The dogs that go for the most money have paperwork and their bloodlines can be traced, but D’Eramo said while some criminals may want to keep the dog for themselves, others can still make some big money selling the animal on the black market.

“It just makes it a lucrative temptation for people that are willing to steal and kidnap family members like this,” D’Eramo said.

He said, lately, thefts of the dogs have received a lot of attention.

How can pet owners protect their dogs?

While all thefts can’t be prevented, D’Eramo said there are steps a dog owner can take to lower the risk of a criminal running off with their fur baby.

Don’t leave dogs unattended and when out with them, keep them closer to you and pay attention to them. He said it is common to see people with their dog over 15 feet away from them on an extended leash. Many times, a dog owner is looking at their phone or distracted in some other way, while a criminal could be eying their dog.

“I think people just need to shift their mindset a little bit, if there are people out there that look at their pet as a quick grab for money,” he said.

But, he said, even following those tips, you could have your dog taken, with some people holding their animal close when a criminal takes them. A notable case is the attack on Lady Gaga’s dog walker who was out walking the performers two French Bulldogs when criminals shot him and took the dogs.

If your dog is taken, D’Eramo said in addition to calling the police, call the jurisdiction’s animal shelter and notify them as well.

“We’ve seen many, many times that these animals turn up either roaming the street or dumped in someone’s yard or something to that effect, and they get brought into the animal shelter as a stray dog,” he said.

Also call animal shelters in neighboring jurisdictions too, so they can be on the lookout for your dog.

“Because your animal went missing or was taken in D.C. doesn’t mean it’s not going to turn up in Howard County, or Prince George’s County or Fairfax,” he said.

Also, another important step is to microchip your dog, and make sure to register that microchip, so the animal can be reconnected with you if found.

“There have been a number of times where we have animals come into the shelter, we scan them for a microchip, and they have one and it’s great, and we contact the company, we go to the website to look up the information that’s on it, and it was never registered,” he said.

Also, don’t forget to update the registry for the microchip if you move or if your phone number changes.

A registered and updated microchip can also help settle disputes over animals, in case someone is claiming your animal belongs to them.

With all this said, D’Eramo said you shouldn’t be scared to take your Frenchie or any other type of dog on a walk, because only a small percentage are stolen. But he said you need to remain cautious.

“Just because it’s a small percentage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious and mindful when you’re out in public, especially with something as important as a family member, like your pet,” he said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up