HOUSTON—The search continued Thursday for a Shih Tzu mix named Toby.
Last Wednesday, around 1 p.m., Darin Carey of Midtown was held at knifepoint forced to hand over his dog.
"I literally thought I was going to be stabbed to death if I didn’t get him that dog," said Carey.
Carey spent Friday going all over his neighborhood where it happened, near Drew and Baldwin, putting up signs.
"People keep asking me why would someone want a dog and I actually believe that someone saw an 8-pound white and black dog and they want money," he said.
According to the American Kennel Club, or AKC, the number of dog-nappings is on the rise.
In 2010, the AKC tracked 255 dogs stolen across the country. The number jumped to 432 in 2011. Twenty of the dog-nappings were in Texas.
Some dogs are resold on the Internet, and others on the roadside. In some cases, the dogs are held for ransom.
"We are getting reports almost daily of pets stolen during home invasions, out of parked cars while people are running errands and even snatched from dog lovers out for a walk in the park," said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson.
The longtime owner of Pet City in northwest Houston, Frank Stack, said he’s very familiar with the practice.
He had three bulldogs stolen from his store a couple of year ago, but he’s never heard of a situation like Carey was put in on Wednesday.
"Not one time have I ever heard about that," said Stack. "Maybe the economy has something to do with it where thieves are just a little bit more bold then they were before and more determined to get what they want."
Carey is offering a cash reward for the safe return of Toby.
Meanwhile, the AKC has offered the following tips for keeping your dog safe:
Don’t let your dog off-leash – Keeping your dog close to you reduces the likelihood it will wander off and catch the attention of thieves.
Don’t leave your dog unattended in your yard – Dogs left outdoors for long periods of time are targets, especially if your fenced-in yard is visible from the street.
Be cautious with information – If strangers approach you to admire your dog during walks, don’t answer questions about how much the dog cost or give details about where you live.
Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even if it’s locked – Besides the obvious health risks this poses to the dog, it’s also an invitation for thieves, even if you are gone for only a moment.
Don’t tie your dog outside a store – This popular practice among city-dwelling dog owners can be a recipe for disaster. If you need to go shopping, patronize only dog-friendly retailers or leave the dog at home.
Protect your dog with microchip identification – Collars and tags can be removed so make sure you have permanent ID with a microchip. Thieves will not know the dog has a microchip until a veterinarian or shelter worker scans it, so keep contact information current with your microchip recovery service provider. For more information, enroll your pet in a 24-hour recovery service and sign-up at akccar.org.
If you suspect your dog has been stolen – Immediately call the police / animal control officer in the area your pet was last seen and file a police report. If your dog has a microchip, ask to have that unique serial number, along with the dog’s description, posted in the "stolen article" category on the National Crime Information Center.
Canvass the neighborhood – Talk to people in the immediate vicinity where your pet went missing for possible sightings of the actual theft.
Have fliers with a recent photo ready to go if your dog goes missing – Keep several current photos (profile and headshot) of your dog in your wallet or on an easily accessible Web account so that you can distribute immediately if your pet goes missing.