Risk of dog theft, Serenity Pet Shelter warns Sylvan Lake residents

Members of Serenity Pet Shelter say there is a risk of dog theft in Central Alberta right now

Serenity Pet Shelter is warning pet owners to keep a close eye on their family pets, specifically their dogs.

The shelter and pet rescue has been made aware in recent weeks of family pets being stolen out of their own yards.

Melanie Crehan with Serenity Pet Shelter, says dog owners need to be careful.

“We’ve been hearing reports from all around Central Alberta about the attempted theft of dogs,” Crehan said, adding incidents have been reported to the police.

According to Crehan, the dogs are often let out into the yard, while the family watches from inside, when they are tempted away.

She says the incidents all seem to follow a similar pattern.

“Each time the dog is alone in the yard and the person calls them over to a fence with treats or something,” she said.

All the dogs the potential thieves have allegedly tried to take have been “quiet and sweet, domesticated dogs,” not guard dogs, says Crehan.

“These are domestic, happy dogs. They aren’t likely to fight or anything,” said Serena Waters, a volunteer with Serenity Pet Shelter.

Both Crehan and Waters worry what becomes of a family dog, once forcibly taken from their home and family in such a way.

Crehan says in many instances of dog theft, the animals are sold into dog fighting rings.

“…It is animal abuse. It’s not something any animal should live through,” Crehan said.

“We want to make sure everyone’s pets are safe at home.”

Crehan says the shelter has been working with RCMP and any information they receive is handed over to the police.

However, Crehan worries about the laws surrounding pets and when animal abuse becomes a criminal offence.

She says volunteers have been speaking with politicians about the laws surrounding family pets.

“The laws look at animals like possessions, not members of the family,” said Crehan.

Waters says it takes a lot before the police are able to act in an animal abuse case.

However, the politicians spoken to thus far say changes to the animal laws are not on their docket.

“It is really frustrating and something that needs to be changed. The police can only act when it’s a criminal offence, and it takes a lot before it gets there it seems,” said Crehan.

The Criminal Code prohibits causing “unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or bird” and “causing damage or injury by wilful neglect.”

In Alberta the Criminal Code is joined by Alberta’s Animal Protection Act, which protects animals from “distress due to neglect or abuse by their owner or caretaker.”

In Alberta, Peace officers from the Alberta SPCA, the Calgary Humane Society and the Edmonton Humane Society are appointed by the Solicitor General of Alberta and the Minister of Public Security to enforce the act.

“It’s not the police’s jurisdiction. They can start making a case, but until it goes under the criminal code, they can’t do much,” said Crehan.

“With this being an election year, both provincially and federally, we are hoping to see our law makers do something help protect our pets,” Crehan said.


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