The Atlantic County SPCA is warning pet owners across Southern New Jersey to keep a sharp eye on their dogs, reports NBC10. The reason? People are stealing dogs — and officials suspect the dogs are being used as bait dogs in dog-fighting rings.
The SPCA posted a message on its Facebook page warning people about the thefts:
“We are becoming concerned with the large number of dogs missing/stolen recently,” it reads. “DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PET OUT ALONE, and DOGGIE DOORS are also an easy way for thieves to get your pet. Be observant not sorry.”
Nancy Beall of the Atlantic County SPCA says “probably at least a dozen or maybe two dozen” dogs have gone missing in South Jersey in the past few months. NBC40 reports that “there has been a number of stolen dog cases in Galloway, Absecon, and at least 43 reported missing cases in Cumberland County since January.”
One of those is dogs in Ginger, who was stolen right out from under Sylkia Flores when she was cleaning her car in her driveway.
“It’s been really hard because I don’t have any kids. Ginger is like my daughter. She’s like a family member to me,” she said. “My dog is friendly. She runs up to everyone, and I was in the car and I had seen her playing with the kids, and the next thing you know, I looked around and she was gone.”
Beall suspects the stolen dogs — which are predominantly little dogs such as Yorkies, Chihuahuas, and Poodles — are being used as bait dogs.
“They use these dogs for bait. They hang them and they use them for bait,” she told reporters. “These fights are awful. They’re going on all over South Jersey and Philadelphia.”
Beall says the thefts are brazen.
“They are luring the dog out, absolutely. The dog hears something and comes running out, they reach over and scoop it out and off they go,” she said.