Neighbors Warn Dog Owners Of Evansville Dognapper

Neighbors say several dogs recently went missing from people's yards on the southeast side and in neighborhoods around the University of Evansville.
People on Evansville's southeast side are warning people to keep an eye on their dogs. Neighbors say several dogs recently went missing from people's yards on the southeast side and in neighborhoods around the University of Evansville. While it's unclear what the individual or individuals might be doing with the dogs, Southeast Side Neighborhood Association President Tom Littlepage says the suspect descriptions he's heard have one detail in common: a man driving a red pick-up truck.

"We were dealing with one description of one subject and one description of one vehicle, but the problem was our neighbors weren't reporting their dogs being taken," said Littlepage.

He says many of the dogs that have went missing in his neighborhood were, mostly purebreds, snatched up between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. when their owners let them out one last time before bed.

"Start in a 3 mile radius, put it on Facebook, put up posters, tell your friends but most of all call EPD," said Littlepage. "If a large number of animals are getting stolen in a certain area like our area then that's a tip for EPD that, hey someone is stealing dogs. The problem we had is they weren't reported. So therefore, it didn't happen."

Incidents on the southeast side have reportedly slowed down since Evansville Police and Animal Control visited a nearby home. Dawn Austin tells Eyewitness News it was her family that got the visit. She says her son and husband, who both drive red trucks, are the ones being accused.

She says her husband recently picked up a German shepherd in their neighborhood, but assures his intentions were honorable. "My husband grabbed it out of the road because it almost got hit," explained Austin. "The owner came by and saw it in our yard and talked to my husband for a little bit and then got it back."

Austin, a dog owner herself, denies her family has anything to do with dognapping.

"We're not out to take nobody's dogs but we do get concerned if they're out and running around that they might get hurt," said Austin. "If we see an animal running lose we'll try to get it in the yard to keep it from getting ran over because they drive like crazy down through here."

As for Littlepage, he hopes whoever is behind the alleged thefts has made his or her final attempt to lure away a furry family member. "So far we've been successful and we haven't had anymore problems and hopefully we won't," said Littlepage.

For dog owners, the incident serves as a startling warning to keep an eye on their pets. If your pet is ever taken, report it to police, as it is considered stolen property. Residents are advised to microchip their pets and be wary of buying pets on websites like Craigslist, as some could be stolen.
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