Bay Area thieves target small breed dogs


Photo by Michael Vezzali-Pascual ’88

Lola, a French Bulldog, represents one of the most sought-after dog breeds by thieves.

Amanda Montalbano ’22, Staff Reporter

Specific dog breeds have been the target of numerous robberies and illegal selling schemes in the Bay Area, and are on the rise.

Instances of French bulldogs being abducted included the cases of Rosie, a French Bulldog puppy who was abducted from her owner when they were on a walk near Broderick and Beach streets in San Francisco’s Marina district, on Jan. 1, and Dezzi, a French Bulldog who was stolen from her owner while they were on a walk near Park View Terrace and Montecito Avenue, in Oakland.

Breeds including the French Bulldog, Chihuahua, and the German Shepherd, have been the subject of numerous targeted robberies and illegal selling schemes in the Bay Area.

According to the San Francisco Police Department, they don’t have a precise number of attacks against French bulldogs, but victims of this breed have been robbed more than any other breed.

There have been recent instances of dog owners being robbed of their dogs while walking them on the streets and in their local neighborhoods.

Dognappers specifically target these types of dogs because the breeds are highly valued, expensive, hard to obtain, and difficult in manners to reproduce.

These pets are very wanted, loved, and treasured.

— Elizabeth Heuser, Riordan Wellness Counselor

Many of the people who abduct dogs try to sell them to an illegal and underground marketing system, in which they will breed more puppies, and resell the stolen dogs for higher prices.

Riordan Wellness Counselor Elizabeth Heuser said, “Very upsetting! And scary for dog owners. These pets are very wanted, loved, and treasured. The owners went to great lengths to get them, especially French bulldogs, so not only are they valuable, they are treasured.”

English teacher and Frenchie owner Michael Vezzali-Pascual ’88 said, “I think that the people doing this are probably people who also break into cars, and petty theft, because it’s kind of on the same level, of crime, which is there is a market for reselling them and that is what’s different now.”

Due to the increase, students and teachers felt weary of the recent news, and wanted to voice their thoughts on the matter.

Heuser shared, “Dogs have always been trusted family friends, but more and more have been considered family members. They provide companionship as well as something rather unique: unconditional love.”

Microchips are a painless and dependable solution to ensure a dog has permanent identification and dramatically increases the chances of a lost or stolen dog being returned home. Microchips are recommended by the Humane Society as an added layer of safety in the event that a pet’s collar and tags fall off.

Images of the dog and detailed descriptions can assist anyone who comes into contact with them in recognizing that they have gone missing or have been stolen.

Walking a valuable dog late at night in isolated locations can be dangerous, and it’s something pet owners should think about as part of being situationally aware when out on walks.

Creating awareness and being helpful is always fundamentally important.

— Michael Vezzali-Pascual, English teacher and Frenchie owner

Owners should avoid geotagging their whereabouts on social media when they are with their dog, because it can be used to follow their location and gather information on the dog’s worth and appearance. Even walking in big groups of people can help decrease the risk of being robbed of a dog on the street, becoming a target of a dognapping.

Students, teachers, and staff have heard about these dog robberies, and it can directly affect the school community since many of the stories are pouring in from San Francisco, San Mateo and Alameda Counties.

Even though there are numerous cases of dognappings in the Bay Area, there are solutions that can help aid dog owners.

Vezzali-Pascual offered that, “Raising the profile, and getting the word out about the incidents. The students learn everything around here and outside. Creating awareness and being helpful is always fundamentally important.”

Heuser said, “Trained service animals are invaluable to their owners, but even regular family pets keep people happier. Interactions with dogs are proven to reduce stress!”