Animal magnetism, pandemic puppies and canine criminality


When two of Lady Gaga’s dogs were stolen in February, the world took notice. Long before this violent dognapping, however, pandemic puppy crime was already on the rise. “It’s definitely a crime of opportunity,” said Professor Mary Dodge, PhD, who teaches criminal justice at the CU Denver School of Public Affairs. During the pandemic, the desire for a pet has increased and puppy scammers are taking advantage.

Besides dognapping, scammers sell puppies that don’t exist (often via Craigslist), sell shelter dogs as registered breeds, raise prices, and extort money. “There’s nothing that makes us happier than puppies,” Dodge said. “It’s such an important commitment and then somebody scams you, the emotional toll on the victim is terrible.”

Rise of the pandemic puppy

According to Athena Baca-Chieza, PsyD, who coordinates clinical training in the doctoral program in Clinical Health Psychology and runs her student-run psychology clinic, there is a very good reason for the pandemic boom in companion animals. : “The pandemic has impacted the human race at one of our most primary levels. It took away our ability to socialize. So naturally millions of us have done the next best thing: we have acquired a pet! “

University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, who founded Camp Bow Wow and is active in animal welfare, discussed the complex reality of pandemic animals: there is a dark side. Be sure to adopt from a reputable shelter or shelter and ask the rescue where specifically they got the dog and how long they have had it.

Proud mother of a pandemic pup herself, Baca-Chieza believes there is a strong psychological benefit to having a pet in an age of social distancing. “Pets are safe from pandemic risk, we can have them around us, we don’t have to wear masks around them, and when we hug and hold them, we don’t don’t have to worry about infecting each other. with COVID.

Athena Baca-Chieza with her children and their pandemic puppy, Fiona Rona Chieza the Chihuahua

The benefits of pets

Baca-Chieza points out that the pandemic has had a negative impact on our collective mental health. “It brought with it immense uncertainty, illness, loss and grief. These are all emotional experiences that research shows can be alleviated with the support and comfort of animals, ”she said. Numerous studies have shown that pets and support animals can help people suffering from everything from PTSD to major depression, from panic disorders to autism spectrum disorders. “Animals can even help patients with neurological disorders predict impending seizures,” she added.

Dodge, who studies crime and victimization, said crime has increased during the pandemic, and she advises everyone to be on guard. She noted that dogs provide a practical benefit: “Research has shown that for people intending to break-in, any dog ​​is a deterrent, even small dogs.”

Can you transport a puppy across the United States?

Yes, yes you can. Puppies can be legally sold – and therefore transported – across state lines. Many breeders sell dogs to out-of-state buyers, but this practice is dangerous during the pandemic. “You may live in Colorado, but the scammers are in California,” Dodge said. “When multiple different jurisdictions are involved, it makes investigations and prosecutions nearly impossible. “

What exactly is the crime? It’s delicate. “Some of this pandemic puppy crime doesn’t quite equate to cybercrime, although much of it is done by computer. It boils down to theft and fraud, ”said Dodge. “If they [the scammers] use mail in any way, then it is mail fraud.

The desire for pandemic puppies is unlikely to decrease until things get back to normal (or near normal). “Due to our inability to reach out to our human social circles during this stressful time, it’s no wonder the puppy adoption/purchase rate has skyrocketed,” Baca-Chieza said.

Ganahl, who sold Camp Bow Wow several years ago but advocates the ethical treatment of animals, provided some practical advice. “Check with PACFA, the organization that oversees the rescues, to see if the rescue you are considering has any complaints or issues,” she said. “Also make sure the puppy you are adopting has had a vet check-up.”

Dodge, who said only 10% of canine fraud cases would be reported, does not consider animal fraud to be benign. “When you decide to have a dog, it becomes one of the most important things in your life,” she said. “For people who are expecting their puppy, it’s serious business.

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