French bulldogs are popular and have become targets of armed robbery

Written by Javed Iqbal

ELK GROVE, California – The French bulldog company is booming for Jaymar Del Rosario, a breeder whose puppies can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. As he leaves the house to meet a buyer, his checklist includes veterinary paperwork, a bag of puppy brother and his Glock 26.

“If I do not know the area, if I do not know the people, I always carry my weapon,” Mr Del Rosario said one afternoon recently when he showed Cashew, a 6-month-old French bulldog of a new “fluffy” variant that can bring in $ 30,000 or more.

With their cheerful ears, their please-pick-me-up-and-cradle-me look and their short-legged crocodile wagging, French bulldogs have become the “it” dog for influencers, pop stars and professional athletes. Faithful mates in the work-at-home era, French bulldogs always seem ready for an Instagram upload. They are now the second most popular dog breed in the United States after Labrador Retrievers.

They are also violently stolen from their owners with alarming frequency. Over the past year, robbery of French bulldogs has been reported in Miami, New York, Chicago, Houston and – in particular, it seems – throughout California. Often the dogs are taken with weapons. In maybe most infamous theftLady Gaga’s two French bulldogs, Koji and Gustav, were torn out of the hands of her dog aerator, which was hit, strangled and shot in last year’s attack on a sidewalk in Los Angeles.

The price of owning a Frenchman has for years been punitive for the household budget – puppies typically sell for $ 4,000 to $ 6,000, but can go for several more if they are one of the new, trendy varieties. But owning a French bulldog increasingly comes at a non-monetary cost as well: the paranoia of a thief reaching beyond a garden fence. The vigilance when walking your dog after reading about the latest abduction.

For unlucky owners, French bulldogs are at the confluence of two very American traits: the love of dog mates and the ubiquity of firearms.

On a chilly January evening in the Adams Point neighborhood of Oakland, California, Rita Warda Dezzie, her 7-year-old Frenchman, walked not far from her home. An SUV stopped and its passengers left and threw themselves at her.

“They had their gun, and they said, ‘Give me your dog,'” Mrs. Warda said.

Three days later, a stranger called and said she had found the dog wandering around a local high school. Ms. Warda now takes self-defense courses and advises French bulldog owners to bring pepper spray or a whistle. Ms. Warda says she does not know why Dezzie’s abductors gave him up, but it could have been his advanced age: The French have one of the shortest service life among dog breeds, and 7 years was already long in the tooth.

In late April, Cristina Rodriguez drove home from her job at a cannabis dispensary in the Melrose part of Los Angeles. When she got to her home in North Hollywood, someone opened her car door and took Moolan, her 2-year-old black and white Frenchman.

Mrs Rodriguez said she could not remember many details about the theft. “When you have a gun in your head, you kind of just turn black,” she said.

But footage from surveillance cameras in her neighborhood and near the pharmacy appears to indicate that thieves followed her for 45 minutes in traffic before striking.

“They stole my baby from me,” Mrs. Rodriguez said. “It’s so sad to come home every day and not have her greet me.”

Patricia Sosa, a board member of the French Bull Dog Club in America, said she was not aware of any inventory of annual thefts. Social media groups created by French-speaking owners are often crammed with warnings. If you own a Frenchman, it says in a post on one Facebook group dedicated to lost or stolen French bulldogs, “do not let it out of your sight.”

“Criminals make more money stealing Frenchmen than robbing grocery stores,” the ad said.

Ms. Sosa, which has a breeding business north of New Orleans, said the lure of taking advantage of the French bulldog craze had also spawned an industry of fake sellers demanding a deposit for dogs that do not exist.

“There are so many scams going on,” she said. “People think, ‘Hey, I want to say I have a Frenchie for sale and make a quick five, six, seven thousand dollars’.”

Ms. Sosa said breeders were particularly vulnerable to theft. She does not give her address to the customers until she has examined them thoroughly. “I have security cameras everywhere,” she said.

French bulldogs are, as the name suggests, a French offspring of the small bulldogs bred in England in the mid-19th century. An earlier iteration of the Bouledogue Français, as it is called in France, was favored as a rat-catcher by butchers in Paris before becoming the toy dog ​​of the artist and the bourgeoisie, and the dog mice appearing in works by Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Today, the American Kennel Club defines French bulldogs as having a “square head with bats and shell back.”

In the world of veterinary medicine, the French are controversial because their beloved features – their large heads and puffy puppy eyes, sunken noses and skin folds – make it, Dan O’Neill, a canine expert at the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College, calls “ultra-dispositions” for medical problems.

Their heads are so large that mothers have trouble giving birth; most French bulldog puppies are born by caesarean section. Their short, muscular bodies also make it difficult for them to conceive naturally. Breeders typically artificially inseminate the dogs.

Most worrying to researchers like Mr. O’Neill is the dog’s flat face, which can withstand its breathing. French bulldogs often make snoring noises, even when fully awake, they often get tired easily, and they are susceptible to the heat. They can also develop rashes in their skin folds. Due to their bulging eyes, some French bulldogs are unable to blink fully.

Mr. O’Neill leads a group by veterinarians and other canine experts in the UK urging potential buyers to “stop and think before buying a flat-faced dog”, a category that includes French bulldogs, English bulldogs, pugs, Shih Tzus, Pekingese and boxers.

“There’s a flat dog crisis,” said Mr. O’Neill. French bulldogs, he concluded in a recent research document, have four times as many ailments as any other dog.

These prayers and warnings have not stopped French bulldogs from rising in popularity, largely driven by social media. Just like in the US, the French bulldog in the UK has been on his neck with the Labrador for the title as the most popular breed in recent years.

Ms. Sosa accused poor breeding of poor results. “Well-bred dogs are relatively healthy,” she said.

Sir. Del Rosario, the breeder of Elk Grove, a suburban town just south of Sacramento, says professional football and basketball players have been some of his most loyal customers. He has sold puppies to players for the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. Four years ago, the San Francisco 49ers bought Zoe, a black brindle Frenchie who serves as the team’s emotional support dog. Two years later, the team added Rookie, a blue-gray French bulldog puppy with hazel eyes, to its dog list.

Sir. Del Rosario’s most expensive Frenchman was a “purple” with a purple gray coat, bright eyes that glowed red and a pink hue on his muzzle. It was sold for $ 100,000 to a South Korean buyer who wanted the dog because of its rare genetics. The dog was one of several hundred puppies that Mr Del Rosario has sold over the last decade and a half.

He has retained seven Frenchmen for his extended family, including his two daughters aged 9 and 10 years. The girls play with the French at home, but Mr Del Rosario is strict in not letting them walk the dogs alone.

“I do not care if you go to the mailbox,” he said. “No, they just can not take the dogs out of themselves.

“With all this going on with these dogs, you just never know.”

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Javed Iqbal

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