‘Tis the Season — For Stolen Pets

Last week, Annette Aiassa, 67, left her 6-pound Maltipoo in her locked SUV when she was getting her phone fixed at a San Jose AT&T...

Widow Annette Aiassa says she would do anything to get her Belle back

Last week, Annette Aiassa, 67, left her 6-pound Maltipoo in her locked SUV when she was getting her phone fixed at a San Jose AT&T store. When she came back, her fluffy white dog with orange pompons atop her head was gone, complete with her sparkly rhinestone tag.

Aiassa has been utterly distraught, staying up at night, offering a $1,000 reward, and profoundly missing the 15-month-old pup — who she says is her only family member.

Aiassa is a childless widow whose husband died three years ago. “I’m all by myself, and I’ll do anything to get her back,” Aiassa told the Mercury News. “If I don’t, I’ll go crazy.” (See happy update at end of story!)

In Dallas, Paul and Cynthia Thomas are searching for their 1-year-old miniature Schnauzer, Gimli, after burglars absconded with the dog, his kennel, and a TV, jewelry, and video games. Theyre offering a $500 reward for his safe return.

“He was such a bright spot,” Cynthia Thomas told TV station WFAA. “We live far from our family and he is family to us a source of joy and happiness in our lives.” Here’s the news footage about his theft.

Pet thefts in the United States have been rising three years in a row, according to the WFAA report. Bleak economic times are at least partly to blame.

The value of pets in peoples lives has been on the rise for a long time and now we are seeing thieves trying to capitalize on this, said American Kennel Club (AKC) spokesperson Lisa Peterson. Whether they seek to resell the dog, collect a ransom or breed the dogs and sell their offspring, thieves seem to be attuned to the increased financial and emotional value pets have in our lives.

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays...(Photo: www.stockforfood.com)

This time of year, thefts can increase as thieves look for four-legged Christmas gifts. Many types of dogs are potential gift material, but pups and small purebreds may be especially at risk because of their portability and cute factor.

Look what I got for you, babe, we can hear the dognapper saying. A $1,000 Bichon. Youre worth every penny. (We cant hear him saying Bichon necessarily, but you get the drift.)

The AKC offers some helpful — albeit somewhat obvious — tips for keeping your dog from being pilfered like Belle. (Were not fans of the no dogs off leash suggestion, but it surely keeps a dog at your side.)

This just in from a Dogster reader: Belle and Aiassa have been reunited! The story checks out: A woman walked into a police station and turned in Belle. Maybe she figured those orange pompons would be her undoing. We are thrilled for Belle and Aisassa, and hope a similar fate awaits Gimli. If you know anything about Gimli, email Cynthia or Paul at cynthiathomas05@gmail.com or vtpaul.thomas@gmail.com.

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