It's been a mangy year for so many things, and now we're seeing an explosion in the number of dog thefts since the COVID lockdowns because more people are home and want fury companionship.

The truth is, the last 12 months have been the worst year ever for dog snatches. A spokesperson for a group called Dog Lost is saying that in his 30 years at the organization, this has been the most horrible year for doggie smash-and-grabs. Criminals noticed the prohibitive, sky-high prices for the animals because of COVID and put two and two together.

My prayers go out to Lady Gaga's dogwalker, who was shot in the chest and two of the singer's French bulldogs were stolen in Hollywood during an armed robbery. He is in grave condition but is expected to survive his injuries.

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Lady Gaga, who sang the national anthem at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden, is offering a $500,000 reward for the return of her two dogs, no questions asked. Obviously, her dogs mean the world to the singer. The loss of a pet dog hurts emotionally because it's become a family member.

Some of the higher-priced pedigrees bring in a generous profit for the crooks, but even puppies of other breeds are taken and trained to be used in fatal dog fights, that people bet on, even though there are tough penalties for those caught.

What's happening is a crying shame, and the best dog owners can do is take extra precautions to protect their dogs from thieves. I never thought I'd be saying this, but you should consider having the vet put in a microchip that will show the location of Fido. They say dogs don't bite twice. Just humans.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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