A report on the RTÉ news today made sense of the almost persistent social media warnings of dogs being stolen in the general Castleisland area and around West Limerick in particular.
Other posts had men offering to buy dogs from people or suspicious activity around houses with dogs since the beginning of the year.
Most of the reports were coming from the West Limerick area and today’s news that a Garda raid on a house in Rathkeale had found up to a dozen dogs suspected of being held illegally certainly lends credibility to the social media alarms.
Men in a White Van
In early January of this year The Maine Valley Post got an urgent message for ASAP posting.
Men in a white, Dublin registered Mercedes van were calling to houses in the College Road area of Castleisland on an afternoon back then.
They called to one home in the College Road area and asked for ‘The Boss’ and were reportedly selling ‘Persian Rugs’ in the area in question.
They were also spotted as they tried to entice dogs to come to them close to the van they were using on the day.
An Alert Resident
However, an alert resident on whom they called, got a bad vibe off them and photographed their van which they parked a distance away from the house.
The photographs, with the number-plate clearly identifiable, were immediately sent to the Gardaí.
Only for her sense of awareness and vigilance the story could have been a much sadder one as the incidence of dog stealing in Ireland today is, quite literally, gone to the dogs.
Scale of Dog Stealing in Ireland
I had no idea at that time of the scale of dog stealing in Ireland had reached or the fact that it was at crisis point in some areas and that it continues almost unhindered.
Soon after the College Road incident, there were widespread reports coming from West Limerick of people being approached and offered sums of money for their dogs and of cars and men lurking in various areas.
Even More Worrying
Now the outbreak of dog stealing has taken over the entire country if reports in local and national news outlets and particularly on social media are anything to go by.
Even more worrying now is the fact that local scouts are out and about and marking houses in various estates up and down the country where the thieves will inevitably strike once the targeted houses have been identified.
Coloured Cable Ties
The identifying marks could be coloured cable ties on a railing or a light pole outside a house or a daub of an ink marker on a wall of a prime target premises.
Different people see different things and to the heartless dog thieves this is their stock in trade.
It’s up to the pet owners, their neighbours and friends to be more vigilant and flick an inner switch on a new kind of awareness to keep up with those who are light years ahead in the application of their dark trade.
An Insatiable Market
This is not a figment of the imaginings of the dog owners of Ireland or of the media which reports on the incidents.
Would you believe there’s a Facebook page set up to help trace and find and, I presume, offer hope and comfort to those whose invaluable pets and family members have been stolen.
The market in these countries is said to be insatiable for dogs as family pets and with huge sums of money attached to the cruel trade.
Illegal Dog Fighting
Some of the stolen dogs are sold into the illegal dog fighting ‘business’ for ‘blooding’ or general training purposes while others are shipped out to medical research centres in Britain and Sweden mainly – where the demand is greatest.
The Irish Kennel Club recommends the practice of Microchipping as a simple procedure that allows for easy recovery of lost or stolen dogs.
Links Between Dog and Owner
It makes, the club advises, a clear link between a dog and its owner in which the pet can be quickly reunited with its owners – and it’s the law in Ireland now since 2016.
For more information on the Irish Kennel Club and its recommendations just click on the link here: https://www.ikc.ie/breeding/microchipping