THE BLOG

Warning To All Parents: The Lost Dog Lure in Abductions and My Close Shave

02/02/2015 12:52 pm ET | Updated Apr 04, 2015
Evan Kafka via Getty Images

Recently, I watched the news and there was a hauntingly familiar story being aired. A young boy was lured towards a white van by a guy who needed help looking for his lost dog.
Fortunately, the boy ran off and reported it to the police, and the news aired a composite sketch of the would-be abductor. I hope they catch the lowlife who is preying on innocent children.

While watching this disturbing story, my heart dropped to the floor. Not just because I hate to hear about this kind of evil, but also because the same scenario happened to my own daughter. It didn't make the news, but it did make me completely crazy for a long period of time.

We were "this close" to having a possible abduction.

This is what happened:

My daughter was 15, but since she has a late summer birthday, all of her friends were 16 and driving. When she hung out with her friends (all screened carefully by her overprotective mom), she would sometimes get a ride from by a friend instead of having me pick her up.

On this particular evening, it was still somewhat light out when her good friend dropped her off at home. My daughter had forgotten her key and planned to ring the doorbell. For some unknown reason, her friend forgot all of his manners and didn't stick around to wait for her to get safely in the house. Kids tend to be naive about dangers in our world.

Immediately after her friend pulled off, my daughert was approached by a man who had a white van nearby. He had a dog with him and asked my daughter to help him with this poor little lost dog. His exact line to her was that he didn't have his glasses on and he couldn't read the dog's tag. He asked her to come and help him as he and the dog stood by the side of his van.

Immediately, my daughter sensed something weird about the guy, but being an animal lover and a good Samaritan, she wanted to help. She used common sense and told the man to wait and she would get me and we would help him out. She began to ring the doorbell pretty urgently, but I was at the very back of the house and didn't get to the door quickly. She entered the house and breathlessly told me the story, wanting me to go outside and help.

We poked our heads outside just seconds later and the man, the dog and the van were gone. We looked up and down the street both ways. Not a trace, just that quick.

That made me alarmed, and I called the police. Before this incident, neither my daughter nor I had ever heard of the "lost dog" lure to get kids in a position where they could be abducted in a van.

My husband drove around the neighborhood, looking for that van or a man with the dog. They were nowhere to be found.

I called the police and when an officer arrived, the very experienced policeman took a report and told us that it was a very common abduction scenario. By the grace of God, my daughter was spared because she hesitated, even though she really wasn't truly aware she could be harmed.

The policeman gave us an "abduction" brochure for young girls. The very first warning urged readers to never go with a stranger who claims to have a lost dog.

We were all floored. It was so chilling, so disturbing, that I wasn't the same for a long, long time. My over-protectiveness went into overdrive. My daugher's ride that night received a call with a major lecture and he felt truly terrible.

My husband was skeptical. He didn't want to believe it. My daughter took some convincing, too, as to what "almost" happened. But I KNEW. And the thought made me insane.

This news report brought back all of my nightmares from that awful time where I spent sleepless nights replaying in my mind. What if... What if my kindhearted daughter had approached the man and the dog, what if my daughter had been abducted, what if she had never come home that day -- never got to ring the doorbell? What if my world had ended that day? My heart goes out to every mother who has had their child abducted and I grieve every time I hear terrible news of the sort.

Parents, tell your kids about this very common lure by potential abductors. Many children love animals and would want to help an animal, even if they were warned about strangers. Please, go over this scenario with your children until you are sure they would run very fast and scream for help if confronted by this.

Continue to teach your children to beware in this dangerous world of ours. And hug them very, very tightly. We live in a world of too many criminals who want to harm our children. They have created a society where we must be paranoid, vigilant and one step ahead of them.

Read my regular blog at www.arlenelassin.com.