At the end of April, the call for help launched by the owners of Sunny, a four-month-old puppy stolen from Plouarzel (29), made the buzz on social networks… Thousands of Internet users were moved and several celebrities have echoed it, including singer Julien Doré, actor and producer Dominique Farrugia and radio host Julien Courbet.
This is not an isolated case, far from it. According to the National and European Association against pet trafficking (Antac), created in 1991 to fight against this scourge, 75,000 dogs and cats are stolen each year in France. According to the SPA, it is the third largest traffic in the world after drugs and weapons. The association created a specialized unit in 1993 to update the various networks.
Up to €7,000 on resale
Some animal thieves then resell them on ad sites or abroad, in particular to supply breeding channels in Eastern Europe. Others demand ransoms from owners to return their pets. Still others do business with pharmaceutical or cosmetic laboratories, ready to pay more than individuals to acquire them, in order to conduct animal experiments.
They are the most popular purebred dogs because they are the most lucrative. Small ones, easier to steal and transport, are particularly targeted. There are no official statistics, but last year Le Parisien identified five fashionable breeds particularly sought after by thieves, some of which can cost up to €7,000: the Chihuahua, the French Bulldog, the American Bully, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Pomeranian (or dwarf Spitz). Other breeds appearing on this sad list: the Jack Russel and the Yorkshire. But hunting dogs are also affected.
Sometimes violent thieves
Pursue robberies, assaults in the street, burglaries… According to an investigation by Le Figaro, the thugs do not hesitate to resort to violence to achieve their ends. Others take advantage of a moment of inattention: “Leaving your dog in front of a store for a quick run is like leaving a wad of €500 lying around hoping to find it on the way out,” noted the volunteer. of an animal protection association.
However, this offense can be heavily punished… As specified in the Penal Code, any theft is punishable by a prison sentence of three years, as well as a fine of €45,000. And this can go up to ten years in prison and a fine of €150,000 if committed with violence.