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Warning to Pet Owners

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA -- (CBS 2/FOX 28) Some pet owners in the corridor fear it's no accident that a number of dogs are disappearing in eastern Iowa.  Michelle, who asked that we not use her last name, manages a Facebook page to help owners find their lost dogs.  She says there's growing evidence some of the pups are being snatched.

She points to a small mixed breed on the computer screen as an example, "This is Miley.  This is a dog that was actually stolen out of her owner's home on Saturday night."

Michelle says there were dog and human footprints coming from the house and leading to the tire tracks from a car.

Michelle says she believes Bella, a fuzzy faced Spaniel is another case, "The dog was missing and then later on ... someone came back and threw the dogs collar into the owner's yard."

She says in neighborhoods all across the corridor you can find people spending time with their pets, but often you'll also see animals tied up or left alone in a yard.  Michelle says thieves know that designer dogs, the popular small breeds, can be worth thousands of dollars and from there the reasons for dog-napping just get more disturbing, "They can be taken to different towns or different states and sold on Craigslist for cash or the sickest part to me is that they possibly are used as bait in dog fighting rings ... I don't like to think about that."

At the Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control Center they haven't seen any recent police reports on stolen dogs, but they are seeing a spike in lost pets brought here as dogs begin to get outside in warmer temperatures.

Manager Diane Webber says it's always a good idea to keep a very close eye on fury family members, "In other words, don't tie your dog out and then just leave it and forget about it and expect it to be there when you go back because somebody could untie it or it could break the chain and get loose and then you have a lost pet ."

Webber says a lot of what she's seeing right now are pets that run out the front door with children and just keep going or pets that get out of yards or slip out of their collars and wander away.  Whatever the reason, she strongly suggests everyone have their pets chipped.  Veterinarians can place a small identification chip under the dog's skin for about $25 that will help return it to its owner whether it's lost or stolen.
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