COSTA MESA, Calif. (KABC) -- Dog theft seems to be happening more and more often, sometimes by violent means.
Just last month, disturbing video showed a man and woman knock down and assault a dog owner inside a 7-Eleven store in North Hollywood and steal her dog.
And in one of the most famous cases, Lady Gaga's dogwalker was shot and her French bulldogs stolen in 2021 as they were walking on the street in Hollywood.
In both incidents, the suspects were found and arrested and the dogs returned.
But that's not always the case.
The American Kennel Club says millions of dogs are stolen every year and most of the time never recovered. And last year, thefts were up 40%, the group says. French bulldogs are the most popular breeds for thefts, followed by the Yorkshire terrier and the Labrador retriever.
One possible solution: An armed dogwalker.
Carol Salvatierra is a former Santa Ana police sergeant and dog lover who started her own company to provide an extra layer of protection for our furry best friends.
Leash & Shield charges $60 an hour, depending on services needed, which can include not just walking but exercise and in-home sitting. She also provides advice for dog owners on how to keep safe.
Salvatierra said she was inspired to start the business after the Lady Gaga incident.
"I thought, if I was walking those dogs that would never happen," she tells Eyewitness News. "Then the light bulb went off."
She's passionate about animals and helping to protect them.
"I bring something else to the table but the love and attention and the joy that I get, that's 100% real and my clients know it."