Last week, a 14-year old boy took his 14-week old Staffordshire bull terrier puppy, Billy, to the local dairy and tied him up outside because the dog was not allowed inside. (Dairies are ‘convenience stores’, for those of you located overseas). While the boy was inside, a man and his accomplice stole Billy.
I can only imagine the panic and heartbreak of the boy. It would be hard enough as an adult to discover your dog has been stolen.
Thankfully, the security camera at the dairy captured the theft and, probably because of the age of the boy and Billy, there was widespread public outcry, particularly on social media, to bring Billy home with the public encouraged to identify the offenders and to report sightings of Billy.
I am pleased to report a happy ending. The NZ Police, acting on information from the public, saved Billy and we are waiting to hear if charges will be laid. Police officers also visited the boy and Billy, who received a soft toy NZ Police dog to help him recover from the ordeal (this photo was also widely circulated on social media).
This incident serves as a wake-up call to all dog parents and caregivers. It is so tempting to want to include our dogs in everyday activities and, since most of us are time poor, being able to run an errand while walking the dog seems a perfect solution.
Sadly, it isn’t. There are unscrupulous people who think it’s okay to steal dogs and many of them get away with it. They don’t necessarily treat the dogs as pets, either. Some could be abused or used as bait dogs – a totally frightening scenario for anyone who loves their dog.
I recently had someone tell me that it’s okay to tie their dog at the local supermarket because the security guard is watching. But what happens if the security guard gets called away or takes his break? How do you know that the dogs are safe outside?
I admit that over the years I have caught myself thinking I could possibly pick up takeaways and bring the dog for a walk, too. I have always stopped myself because of the risk.
Remember, it’s our job to keep our dogs safe and secure at all times. I certainly do not blame the boy – he made a mistake and he’s learnt such a hard lesson. We can all learn from Billy’s story – leave your dog at home unless you have a companion who can wait outside to supervise.
One solution, of course, would be to have more dog-friendly shops…
Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand