N4T Investigators: Disappearing Dogs - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Disappearing Dogs

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TUCSON – Thieves steal dogs more often than many people realize.

Philip Sanchez’ and Betsy Almaraz’ dog, Hondo, disappeared from their home near Ajo Way and 6th Avenue on Labor Day weekend. A neighbor told them somebody put him in a black car.

“He was our family member,” Almaraz said, “so him being gone, the house feels empty.”

Amy Cubillas is a co-founder of The Sanctuary Project, an animal rescue organization. Her network of foster homes usually cares for about 30 dogs at a time.

“The prevalence of dogs being stolen is not just an issue in Tucson, it's nationwide,” she said. “And it is something to be really concerned about.”

News Four Tucson reported on a family that caught an animal thief on surveillance camera in January 2017.

A man’s dog was stolen during a home burglary last October.

Cubillas said pet owners need to keep their yards secure, and they should not advertise to potential thieves, especially with expensive purebreds.

“You want to make sure never to speak in public as to how much money you have spent on that particular dog,” Cubillas said, “just keep it quiet. Nobody needs to know.”

Kristen Auerbach is the director of the Pima Animal Care Center. She said all animal breeds are at risk

“Animals disappear from people's yards. They are stolen for a whole variety of reasons,” Auerbach said. “Some of those people just thought the dog was pretty and wanted to own it themselves.”

All animals at PACC have a microchip inserted behind their shoulders. When scanned, the chip number can be searched in a national database. Auerbach said that is the best way pet owners can have a chance of reuniting with their animals.

“People don't think that tags and collars can be removed so easily,” Auerbach said. “One snap or getting snagged on a branch and that collar and that tag is gone. But a microchip is for life.”

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