Remember last year, when those two cute Boxer pups were dognapped from someone’s yard? Or last month, when Stella was stolen right outside of the Durn Good? Thankfully, both stories had happy endings, and the dogs were returned to their owners; but now we’re hearing stories around the neighborhood about people attempting to take dogs that are leashed up in front of businesses.
Wally Pets owner Paul Brown told us about two separate incidents of attempted dog theft. The first one was right outside of QFC, when someone was trying to get a dog into his car. Thankfully, someone who had just walked outside of QFC was a neighbor of the dog owner, and he immediately recognized the dog and shouted at the would-be thief.
The second incident was right outside of Bartell Drugs, when a man had untied a dog’s leash and attempted to walk off with the dog until the owner came out of the store and caught him.
I write this as a dog lover and owner, and when Paul told me these stories, I was flabbergasted. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve leashed up my dogs on the Wallingford Avenue side of QFC or next to the bench around the corner from Bartell Drugs; and it’s not just those two particular stores, either. Let’s not forget that Stella was taken out in front of the Durn Good and those Boxer pups were taken right out of someone’s yard.
Last week, I spoke with Amy Singer who works for Lorig, the management company for Wallingford Center. She told me that she walked her dog, April, to Fuel once and tied her up out front. When she came back out, she had a split second of panic because she didn’t see April where she had left her. Someone had moved the dog 20 feet away from where she had leashed her. “It was disturbing because I came outside and she wasn’t where I left her,” Amy explained. “I don’t leave her for very long and I don’t like to leave her where I can’t see her.”
I sent an email to Terrie Johnston, Seattle Police Department’s Northwest Crime Prevention Coordinator, and asked her if she noticed an increase in reported dognappings. She contacted the supervisor over at Animal Control and neither of them have seen any increase in reports of dogs stolen nor attempted to be stolen, though, she adds, “There are always some.”
But what Terrie also wrote was something she thought might be helpful to Wallyhood readers, and something I never realized:
It is illegal to tether an animal to anything on a public right-of-way, so doing so in front of a store’s sidewalk and/or parking lot is not legal.
It is not safe, for the pets nor for the passersby. When dogs are separated from their owners, they get stressed. When stressed they can act very differently from when they are w/you. They may bark excessively, they may lunge or bite and you may be liable for any damage.
Loren Street of Seattle Police Department noted that “The actual definition for this violation can be found online by searching Seattle Municipal Code 9.25.084. Paragraph ‘F’ is what to pay attention to.”
Perhaps, statistically, Wallingford isn’t seeing a rise in pet theft (thankfully), but nationally, “Dog theft is up, says the American Kennel Club,” quoted in the Huffington Post on August 16. “The organization’s national database shows at least a 32 percent jump in thefts this year,” and the post also points to an article in the Chicago Sun Times, citing that “224 animals were stolen during the first seven months of this year compared with 150 during the same period last year and 255 in all of 2010. In 2009.”
So, it’s probably a good idea to leave Fido at home when you need to stop in a store that offers no visibility to your dog outside, or tethering the dog in a spot that violates the above municipal code. Still, if you’re like me and you like to run your errands while walking your dog, worry not, dear neighbors, because we also have a list of Wallingford’s dog friendly places that we put together last summer.
One more thing that Terrie added in her email as a reminder to all dog owners:
Also, just a reminder that dogs can die in cars even when it is cloudy, and only 60 degrees out. Exponentially overweight dogs, dogs w/respiratory issues, fatigued dogs can die in a matter of minutes when they cannot cool down.
If you have any questions call 386-PETS ext. 7 to discuss further.