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'Dognappings' spark warning.

AUTHORITIES are investigating a spate of animal thefts, which are believed to be linked to an organised dognapping gang.

At least 11 dogs were reported missing last month, but the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) says the increasing number could only mean they were targeted attacks.

It says almost all the missing animals are pedigree dogs stolen from homes in Sr, Sanad, Jidhafs, Juffair and other areas.

The society and dog owners have reported the missing dogs to police.

"We don't know who it is, but we know they must be organised to be able to pull this off," said society fundraising co-ordinator Joyce Hughes.

"The increase is too large for us to believe that the dogs are simply going missing.

"The dogs targeted are almost all pedigree dogs.

"There's been a Pekingese dog reported missing, a chow chow, a miniature schnauzer and a shih tzu - to name a few.

"The breeds that are being targeted are very specific.

"It's almost like they're being stolen to order."

The latest dog to be reported missing was in Juffair, where witnesses saw someone putting the dog into a Toyota car and driving off.

Ms Hughes said society officials and volunteers have already searched known places in Bahrain where stolen pets are sold, particularly the Isa Town Traditional Market.

She urged pet owners to inject micro-chips in their dogs to keep track of them amidst an increase in dogs going missing.

"Knowing that these crimes are increasing, people should keep an eye out and make sure they always know where their dogs are," she said.

"A lot of these dogs are being stolen out of gardens, so these burglars are clearly not scared of dogs or of the police.

"There are a number of measures people can take.

"Dogs should be micro-chipped as soon as possible. This won't prevent them being stolen, but it will help with the identification if they're found."

Ms Hughes said owners should follow a number of steps that could prove helpful if a pet goes missing.

"The first thing to do is search the area and let people know they are missing," she explained.

"Call the vets in case someone has brought them in.

"Contact the BSPCA and other animal societies to see if they have been handed in, and file a police report."

Animal owners can also visit Facebook pages to post about their missing pets, including the BSPCA's official page and the Lost, Stolen and Found page. "Also check animal society pages in Saudi Arabia, as some dogs have gone over the border before," added Ms Hughes.

"Awareness can play a large part.

"For example, a pet owner, Ahmed, lost his chow chow, Jasmine, and someone saw the flyer in Pet Arabia and recognised her.

"Rewards for finding a dog can also play a role in having the dog returned to the original owner."

To report missing or stolen animals, contact the BSPCA on 17591231 or e-mail bspca@batelco.com.bh.

lla@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Feb 2, 2013
Words:519
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