Dog stolen from outside grocery store

November 3, 2011 3:56:21 AM PDT
An apparent pet-snatching at a busy grocery store shocked witnesses, but experts say this type of crime is on the rise.

Dog theft is actually down a bit in Houston but nationally it has skyrocketed. Experts blame that in part on the economy.

Kassandra Damdrano says she'd do anything to get her roommate's dog back.

"He's just friendly and he wants to be loved," she said.

"Robbie" is a three-year-old border collie. Damdrano says he tied him up outside an H-E-B on Saturday as she ran inside to shop. Twenty minutes later he was gone, only his leash left behind.

"Dogs become people's family members, honestly. They're like their baby," Damdrano said. "I feel terrible because it happened to also be under my time."

Eyewitnesses told her an older man and woman took the dog off the leash and forced it into their vehicle before speeding off.

Lisa Peterson with the American Kennel Club said, "I think clearly economics are playing a part here. People are stealing pets and not paying purchase prices at pet stores or taking them from shelter adoptions. So they're not wanting to pay the price to own a pet."

The American Kennel Club studied dog theft and found nationwide a 49 percent increase in the first seven months of this year over last. In Houston, police say incidents of dog theft are down. Over the last year there have been 171 reports. The year prior there were 181.

"It's not just purebred," Peterson explained. "Now it seems all dogs can be the target of a crime."

At home, where Robbie's food and water bowls remain, his owner waits anxiously for word that someone has found him and that he's OK.

Whether it's a human or an animal, the sense of loss when a loved one goes missing is immeasurable.

"I don't understand. That's what it comes down to," Damdrano said. "I just don't understand."

Robbie does have a microchip. But that is only helpful if the dog is taken to the vet and scanned. The suspects were last seen speeding from the scene in a broken station wagon. Eyewitnesses gave police a license plate number, however they have not yet assigned an investigator to the case.

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