2001 pet theft log starts with a bang!-bang!
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2001:
COLFAX, Louisiana–The ANIMAL PEOPLE pet theft log for 2001 started with a bang!-bang! on January 6 when an unidentified homeowner shot Stanley Brimzy, 21, twice in the chest as Brimzy was in the alleged act of stealing dogs. Alleged accomplices Larry Thomson, 19, and an unidentified 16-year-old were charged with obstructing justice for lying to Natchitoches Parish police about how it happened. Brimzy, in critical condition, was also to be charged–if he survives. The police did not suggest a motive for the alleged attempted thefts.
A record number of dog thefts for laboratory use resulted in criminal charges during 2000–but all of the alleged thefts were by the same accused perpetrator, former football coach Dan Shonka, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on January 3, 2001 charged Shonka with defrauding greyhound stable owners of at least 341 retired racing dogs who were allegedly to be placed in homes as pets, but were instead sold to Guidant
Corp., of St. Paul, Minnesota, for use in experiments involving heart surgery. The 341 were among 850 greyhounds that Shonka sold to Guidant between 1996 and March 2000.
Shonka reportedly came under investigation by the USDA and the Wisconsin Division of Gaming as result of complaints filed by Susan Netboy, of the Greyhound Protection League. While the Shonka case features many dogs but only one suspect, the most publicized case of 2000 allegedly involved 11 students at Mojave High School in Las Vegas, who on September 27, 2000 stole only the English bulldog Blue, mascot of the football team at rival Centennial High. Some of the students allegedly then tried to make Blue fight a pit bull. Nine of the 11 defendants were convicted of related offenses before Christmas 2000.
Verified U.S. pet theft cases, 1978-2000
Years Perps Convct Dogs Cats Labs Hurt Save Scam Oth/Unk. Birds Herps
1978/87 8 0 49 1 45 2 1 2 0
1988/91 40 18 300 152 334 106 7 2 3
1992/93 33 11 193 27 77 81 50 2 10
1994/98 108 13 219 27 0 91 19 26 110 4683 88
1999 107 19 527 12 300 70 43 4 120 105 41
2000 134 15 548 15 341 31 11 11 168 282 35
Between 1978 and 1987 thirteen states repealed laws requiring public animal shelters to surrender impounded animals to research institutions. Attention to pet theft soared 1988-1991 after the first introduction of the bill which became the Pet Theft Act, adopted by Congress as part of the 1990 Farm Bill. The Pet Theft Act came into force on January 1, 1993. Vigorous USDA enforcement followed until April 19, 1995, when the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrow Federal Building in Oklahoma City killed Midwest Stolen Pet Task Force chief Richard Cummins and six of his staff. Rising
numbers of dog and cat thefts for lab use during the past two years may reflect a recovery of USDA ability to investigate and prosecute cases.
Thefts of birds and herpetological pets are not included in the totals pertaining to perpetrators and motives. The only common motive appears to be profit by illicit sale as pet.