According to police, a group of thieves stole a family’s dog at gunpoint during an evening stroll on Saturday.
The thieves targeted the pet owners, a woman and her adult daughter, who were walking their French bulldog, Tito, in Castro Valley, Calif., around 5:30 p.m., the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement. They pulled up in front of the victims in a black 2019 Kia Nero.
Four or five people – three of them with handguns – got out of the car and approached them. One of the thieves snatched the dog while another snatched a purse containing a wallet and keys before fleeing the scene, the sheriff’s office said.
The suspects went to the victims’ home and later in the night stole a vehicle from their driveway, the statement said. The suspect’s car was allegedly stolen and involved in multiple armed robberies.
Detectives are working to identify the suspects and bring Tito home safely, the statement said.
French bulldogs – known for their small size and friendly temperament – are among the most popular dogs in the United States but have been the target of other robberies in recent months.
David Johnson, president of the French Bulldog Club of America, wrote in a statement to Newsweek that the rise in thefts was due to the breed’s popularity in the United States.
“Most of these thefts are perpetrated by individuals hoping to make a quick monetary gain either by selling the stolen dogs on the black market or by receiving a hefty reward upon returning the dogs to their rightful owners,” he wrote.
He added, “The average person has no idea how much money and extensive veterinary care goes into raising a healthy puppy from parents who have received extensive health testing and health clearances prior to breeding.”
Brandi Hunter Munden, vice president of public relations and communications at the American Kennel Club, wrote in a statement to Newsweek that French bulldogs are in such high demand because of their popularity and the fact that the breed is known for producing small litters.
Hunter Munden outlined some ways to prevent pet theft. Dog owners are advised to microchip their pets, watch out for them on walks, and never let them off the leash or leave them unattended.
Last February, two of Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs were shot dead by a thief who also shot their dog walker in Los Angeles. She offered up to $500,000 to anyone who could return the puppies. Finally, the dogs made it home safely.
Thieves kidnapped a family dog – a French bulldog named Tito — while walking in California’s Castro Valley on Saturday night. Above is a French Bulldog in March 2017 in Birmingham, England.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
In December, a woman walking her French bulldog, Mona, was held at gunpoint by three men who stole the dog in Los Angeles. She was also later found to be safe, according to local television news station KCBS.
Two women were arrested in July after they allegedly tried to steal a French Bulldog worth thousands of dollars in Texas.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for further comment Sunday afternoon.