Animal care organizations report a quadrupling of kidnappings in recent years, buoyed by robust ransom opportunities.

Mexico has a well-documented history of kidnappings -- over 26,000 have gone missing in the last six years. And that scourge isn't limited to people.

Animal care and control organizations in Mexico report a quadrupling of dog kidnappings around the country in recent years. Ransoms for breed dogs can hit as much as seven times the market value for such pets.

Typically, criminal gangs, who mostly operate in public parks, will approach a dog owner and threaten them (gun in hand) before taking the pet. Other times, kidnappers will use dogs in heat to lure in new ones.

Mixed-breed dogs can be targets too, with criminals hoping the owners' emotional attachment will yield a modest ransom. And police, already busy investigating missing person cases, can't prioritize dog thieves. "They said it was absurd that I was trying to report the theft of a dog," one victim told the Los Angeles Times.

Below, via Reuters, scenes from Mexico City and its dogs, including the ones under the care of Mariam Luzcan, a dog advocate who drives her "canine car" around the city: 

Dogs look out from a canine car in Mexico City, July 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
A poster offering a reward for a dog is seen at a public park in Mexico City, July 12, 2013. The characters in red read, "lost". (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
A handicapped dog is seen at public park in Mexico City, July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido  
A man waits with his dog to receive blessings from a priest in a church in Xochimilco, on the outskirts of Mexico City January 17, 2013. People take their animals to churches to be blessed during the day of Saint Anthony Abate, the patron saint of domestic animals. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Two dogs look out from a roof top in a neighborhood in Mexico City January 14, 2013. (REUTERS/Bernardo Montoya) 
A dog barks next to a canine car in Mexico City, July 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Dogs are seen inside a canine car in Mexico City, July 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido) 
A veterinary doctor prepares a scanner and microchip before implanting the chip into a dog in Mexico City, July 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Dogs are seen inside a canine car in Mexico City, July 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Mariam Luzcan, an advocate for dogs, poses for a photograph with her dogs and another group for adoption in Mexico City, July 15, 2013. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)
Mariam Luzcan drives a canine car as a dog stands on the dashboard in Mexico City, July 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)

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