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In America, we love our dogs. They're pretty much the center of our family. And a lot of countries follow suit. Dogs might just be, globally, the most beloved furry friend out there.
But for those who live in Italy, there might be a danger if you own a dog from the Toy Group.
Over 2015, thousands of chihuahuas and other toy dogs were reported stolen from their owners, all across the country. Now, dognapping does happen, but not the way these happened.
Besides being small dogs, these stolen pups had one other thing in common: their owners were contacted for ransom or they were sold through a black market. The black market for this is so thriving that it's worth an estimated 5 million euros, or 5.6 million U.S. dollars.
Data from the Italian Association for the Defense of Animals and the Environment reports that about 3500 chihuahuas were stolen last year, more than double the previous year's amount of 1400. Overall, Italy's dog theft tripled last year, with 30,000 different breeds stolen.
So, why is this happening at all? Well, dogs from the toy group are extremely popular in Europe and Italy, and sell for about 2500 euros ($2800) each. To the thieves, it's simply a supply and demand issue. They know that people will pay a lot of money for chihuahuas, and they'll be able to sell them on the cheap and still make a good amount of money.
Due to the known owner-dog bond, many thieves simply ask owners for ransom to get the most amount of money possible.
Let's hope that the police and animal rights groups tackles this issue head on! And folks, hold on to your chihuahuas.