Dogs are disappearing not too far from where I used to live in Wyoming … the Twin Falls and Magic Valley area in Idaho. According to a report in USA Today, “About 40 dogs have gone missing since November…”

The missing dogs are all ages, sizes and breeds. A few of the dogs reported missing on Craigslist are Great Danes, German shepherds, boxers, pit bulls and golden retrievers.

Clio, a purebred Chihuahua, has been missing since Dec. 14. "All four of our dogs were in crates in the garage, and when we came back from church, he was gone," says Clio's owner, Hannah Robinson, 19, of Twin Falls.

Other reports include dogs removed from fenced-in yards or who were unhooked from chains.

One dog’s body has been recovered, but its relationship to the other cases is unclear. The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for bludgeoning a German shepherd to death.

Debbie Blackwood, director of the Twin Falls Animal Shelter, gave the following account: “This dog was found in a remote yet very public area, laid out and draped with a purple blanket. His head was covered by large rocks and his skull appeared to be crushed.”

“The citizens of Jerome County should be very concerned that someone in their community could kill an animal in such an apparently callous manner,” said Lisa Kauffman, Idaho state director for The HSUS. “We are hopeful that anyone with information about this crime will come forward.”

The Jerome County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 208-324-1911

The report regarding Clio the Chihuahua disappearing from a crate in a garage is also quite worrisome. I frequently recommend that people avoid leaving their pets outdoors when they are not at home to prevent them from being stolen in their absence. Thieves are looking for easy targets. Make it hard for a ne’er-do-well to steal your dog and he or she is likely to move on down the block. I don’t know whether the door to Clio’s garage was open or closed (my guess would be closed since I’m familiar with what the weather should be like in December in that part of the world), but in either case, it was a brazen move to take her from her crate.

I hope none of you are ever in a position of suspecting that a beloved pet has been stolen, but if so, make sure to contact your local police department in addition to the shelters in your area. As the Twin Falls Animal Shelter says on their Facebook page, “We NEED you to file police reports with any information you have about the missing dogs. We NEED you to call the police and file a missing dog report with them as well as the shelter. This investigation can go no further if the authorities don't get reports.”

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Composite from Ron Rowan Photography and Enigmangels / via Shutterstock