Dognapping was immortalized by Disney’s Cruella de Vil’s glamorous villain in the movie 101 Dalmatians, and it is every dog owner’s worst nightmare. It was the fear over having his own dog stolen that prompted Phoenix, Arizona resident and inventor Jim Allen to create a device to secure dogs when out doing errands, traveling or just having fun outdoors. And so the StayBoy Lock project was born and launched on Kickstarter, where it’s currently seeking funding.

The four-number combination lock, which has over 10,000 combinations, is designed to adjust to the size of the dog’s neck and make it hard for thieves to cut the airplane cable that Allen has used to strengthen the device, which can also be used as lead. The cable is coated with vinyl and can safely secure up to 400 pounds (181 kg). For comfort, Allen has covered the collar and handle with fabric. Finally, it can be rolled up into a very small unit that fits into a pocket, besides weighing just 3 oz (85 g).

But does the device really stay safely attached to the animal? “If you fit the cable to the neck size properly, the would-be thief can't slip it over the dog's neck,” Allen tells Gizmag. However, some dogs with big necks, such as Rottweilers, are “escape artists” and for those a dog harness would be advisable. “If you use a harness, the hasp and cable will fit through the leash connector, and then fit to the dogs neck size with the harness on," he explains.

Allen has also created the double lock version so that the owner doesn’t need to take the lock when it’s being used as a lead. In this case, all they have to do is to open the handle and attach it to a secure object. It would also be handy for situations when two dogs need to be secured, in which case the lock could simply be tied around a post and hooked up to the two animals.

To create StayBoy, Allen worked with lock manufacturer Wilson-Bohannan, who provided guidance and support. They concluded it would be better to avoid keys so he re-directed the design to the combination lock system. Jim has already earned a design patent on the single lock and now has a patent pending on the double lock.

StayBoy will compete with several similar products designed to ensure pet safety such as Goldielock, designed for small, medium and large dogs, Petloc and K9lock.

Pledges start at US$45 for a single lock and $65 for a double.

Watch Allen make his pitch in the video below.

Sources: StayBoy, Kickstarter