The kidnapping of a female Beagle on December 22 that remains untraceable till date has brought the focus back on illegal breeders operating in the city to earn quick bucks.
Coco was allegedly ‘kidnapped’ by an unidentified man from outside her owner’s house in central Delhi’s Pusa Road.
Animal activists in the city said that there have been several instances where dogs were stolen for illegal breeding. To lure male dogs, illegal breeders use female dogs. “Female dogs in heat attract the male ones. The breeders use this to get the dogs out of their owners’ houses and trap them,” said Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS.
“To catch female dogs, they first monitor their daily activities. After sometime, these dogs are lured to come out using food as bait,” she said. Seshmani said their organisation receives two to three cases of dog thefts every week. “Most such cases remain unsolved because priority is not given to such cases by the police,” she added.
Sonya Ghosh, member of Delhi state advisory board for animal welfare, said that breeders in the city do not follow rules and regulations. Hundreds of illegal pet shops and pet breeding centres are running illegally in houses and on rooftops in slums in areas such as Trilokpuri, Seelampur, Nizamuddin, Rangpuri Parahi.
“Illegal breeding causes serious health issues to pet animals. But as rules and regulations are not followed, this has become a common practice in such areas. The police prefer to turn a blind eye towards such illegal practices,” said Ghosh.
In the case of Coco, a case of theft was registered through e-FIR after the dog’s owner reported the kidnapping to the police through Dial 100.
One-and-a-half-year-old Coco escaped through the partly open main gate of her owner, Jachika Sethi’s, house and reached the pavement on the busy main road.
“A man wearing black and white check T-shirt and sweater came out and walked towards my dog. He first looked around and then picked Coco by the collar. In the footage he is seen dragging Coco and then putting her inside the car before driving away. Everything happened in less than 40 seconds,” said Sethi who works as a business development manager with a startup.
Sethi said that by the time her sister Jigyasa came out looking for Coco, the dog had gone missing. They looked for her in the locality. But when she could not be located, they scanned the CCTV footage and saw the man driving away with Coco.
“We called the police on 100 and filed a complaint. However, no FIR was lodged. It was only when I approached somebody in a ministry and sought help, the FIR was filed on December 29, a week after the crime,” she said.
The investigating officer from the Karol Bagh police station collected the CCTV footage but later told the complainant that they were unable to identify the suspect or his car’s registration number as the video footage was of poor quality. The police sought help from local taxi drivers and shopkeepers but failed to trace Coco.
Mandeep Singh Randhawa, DCP (central), said, “A team has already been formed to trace the missing dog. We will take help of cameras installed on the route that was taken by the thief. Their footage may give us some clues.”
The police suspect that the person who kidnapped Coco was a member of a gang of professional cattle thieves that steal pet animals, mostly dogs, and sell them illegally for large profits. “Coco being a female dog, may be used for breeding purposes and her Beagle puppies may then be sold in the illegal market, for a cost starting from Rs15,000. Tracing a missing dog and nabbing such thieves is a difficult task because we have not come across any organised gangs in the past. Also, such cases are not reported frequently,” said a senior police officer.
Tracking Delhi’s missing dogs
November 2016: A male Indian dog Johnny went missing from north Delhi’s Wazirpur. His owner Gautam said they are yet to trace Johnny.
June 2016: A Siberian Husky was kidnapped by a gang of cattle thieves when it tried to prevent them from stealing pigs in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj Enclave. A week later, the dog was found tied to an electric pole in the same area. His kidnappers haven’t been caught.
March 2015: 4-year-old Labrador Bosco was stolen by unknown people from Indraprastha Park near Sarai Kale Khan in south Delhi where his owner, a banker, had taken him for a walk.