How are Dogs Stolen or Harmed While on a Walk?

There are a number of dangers that you may encounter when on a walk, but many dog owners or walkers don’t see them coming. It’s important to be familiar with the dangers lurking in public places.

Golden Retriever smiling while on a short leash wearing an orange harness.
Being able to recognize and avoid dangerous scenarios will help to keep your dog with you, healthy and happy, for years to come. Photo by: M. Shea

How are dogs stolen or harmed when on a walk? There are a number of dangers that you may encounter when on a walk, but many dog owners or walkers don’t see them coming. It’s important to be familiar with the dangers lurking in public places. Being able to recognize and avoid these scenarios will help to keep your dog with you, healthy and happy, for years to come.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Why can’t I trust people I meet on walks with my dog?

You’re out walking your dog, enjoying each other’s company, when you meet up with another person. They say they love dogs and ask if it’s ok to pet your doggo.  This must mean they are safe, right?  What if they have a dog too? They must be dog people, right? Not necessarily.  It’s unfortunate,  but it’s not the best practice for a dog parent to trust everyone you meet on the street.  For that matter, it’s best not to trust anyone with your pet if you don’t know them well.  

If you’re looking for pet care, or a dog walker, make sure to do a thorough background check and keep an eye on how your pet acts after being out with anyone new. Dognapping has always existed, but it is a crime that is increasing drastically over the last couple of years.

How common is dog theft or intentional harming of dogs?

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Let’s face it, the chances of anyone stealing or doing anything to intentionally harm your dog is slim, but it happens more often than we care to think.  There are stories of dog walkers who steal dogs; groomers, boarding services and even veterinarians who did not provide the type of care you would expect,  or sadly, who have deliberately neglected or physically harmed dogs in their care.  

There are even instances where people pose as dog walkers, come to pick up the dog and they never return with them.  It is critical that you do your research when hiring someone to provide any kind of care for your doggo.  

For more information on hiring a dog walker,  click here:

How can I prevent my dog from being stolen?

Here are some ways to reduce the risk of your dog being stolen.  

  1. Don’t let your dog run loose in public places. Dogs who run loose can be scooped up and taken faster than you can react.  There are professional dognappers out there who are ready to pounce when you least expect it.
  2. Don’t leave your dog alone in a car.  There are many reasons for this, but in this context, breaking a window and grabbing the dog is a very simple maneuver. 
  3. Don’t leave your dog outside alone.  Leaving your outside, day or night, without supervision, makes it easy for thieves to swoop in and take them.
  4. Keep your dog on a leash that is a reasonable length.  When walking with a dog whose leash is very long, people have been known to cut the lead and scoop the dog up quickly.  Between the shock of what is happening and being 12 feet away from your dog, the thief has a significant head start and can easily get away with your pup.
  5. Be vigilant when walking your dog or playing at the dog park.  Don’t ask someone to hold your dog’s leash while you go to the garbage or keep an eye on your dog while you run to the car for a second.  Take your dog with you if you have to walk away for a moment.

How do people harm dogs that are not in their care?

Another way people deliberately harm your dog is to put poisoned food or treats in areas commonly frequented by dogs, like parks, but there are some that even put things on their own lawn to get rid of the dogs.

True story: A neighbour of mine who lives a few blocks down despises dogs.  She watches out of a small window on the side of her house and yells at people with dogs to stay off of her property.   Unfortunately,  she feels that the sidewalk and boulevard which are city owned property are hers as well.  

After harassing many dog walkers in the area, she actually covered an electrical box on city property near her home with garlic so that the dogs would lick it and become sick or die.  

She definitely has some psychological issues that she is dealing with, and I wish her well,  but in the meantime she could have done some serious damage.  

Not all hazards from strangers are intentional. Some are done purely out of kindness, but the person is not aware of the issues that could arise. 

How a kind gesture can result in your dog getting very sick.

One example that often occurs is having people offer your dog treats.  While this might seem harmless, many dogs have food allergies or sensitivities and cannot eat treats made from certain products. Others may be on a very strict diet for serious medical issues like diabetes or kidney problems.

Another innocent example that can cause severe illness for a lot of dogs is public water bowls.  You often see these on people’s lawns on a hot summer day.  This is a sincere and caring thing to do, but sharing water bowls can spread illnesses, such as kennel cough, like wildfire throughout the community. Don’t let your dog drink from the community bowl at the dog park either.  You are better to carry a water bottle to keep your dog hydrated.  

Another concern with shared water bowls is the bacteria that can develop in a dirty dog bowl.  Your dog can develop severe gastrointestinal issues if the bowl is not cleaned regularly. 

For more info about dirty dog food bowls read this:

Nobody wants to think of all the negative things that can happen all of the time, but it is always best to be aware so that you can prevent nasty things from hurting your pup. 

The old saying that, “prevention is the best medicine “, is very accurate.   Keep this in mind when enjoying an outing with your doggo.  It could save you both a lot of grief.

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