Dognapping on the rise in petloving Brazil

Sat Feb 27, 2016 11:47am EST
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By Reese Ewing

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - While Brazil's economy is in the doghouse, one underground business is bucking the trend -- dognapping.

Bosco, a black and white Boston Terrier stolen in November from outside a grocery store in Sao Paulo's posh Jardins neighborhood, became the poster-pup for the rise of dognappings.

His owner, screenwriter Fernando Pedrosa, unleashed a storm of comment on social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under the tag #cadeobosco, which translates as "where is Bosco".

Raul Rocha, one of a team of six investigators at DetetivePet in Sao Paulo that helped broker Bosco's return, said that in the past, thieves were mostly in it for quick cash, selling the pilfered pooch at informal sidewalk fairs or to black market puppy mills.

"These days, more of our cases involve ransom," Rocha said in his office, adding he has seen a sharp increase in stolen dogs in the past year. "Criminals are using the owner's attachment to the dog to ensure payment."

Pedroso declined to comment on his ordeal, saying he and Bosco wanted time to recover. But his postings have encouraged other owners to post stolen pets.

Police say there are no official figures on animal theft but detectives and local media say thieves are increasingly preying on the booming pet business.

Brazilians have more than 52 million dogs, according to the IBGE federal statistics institute -- exceeding the number of children under 14 years old in Latin America's largest economy.   Continued...

A man washes a Shih Tzu during a spa treatment for dogs at Gama Pet pet store, at the Cidade Jardim mall in Sao Paulo, Brazil, February 24, 2016. Picture taken February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce