Dog owners in rural Minnesota are on alert after reports of a man trying to steal family pets.
According to a post from the Dodge County Sheriff's Office, a white male driving a "nicer looking" white pickup truck has been trying to take dogs that have been left outside on their owners' property.
The sheriff's office received two reports in two days about the thief, the post said. No one has gotten the truck's license plate yet.
They added that there have been a number of reports of dog thefts in the region – mostly in rural areas – and that the suspect may be baiting dogs with raw meat.
Many dog owners think of their pets like family, and thousands have shared the post in hopes of tracking down the suspect. In a follow-up post, Sheriff Scott Rose thanked everyone for spreading the word.
"With everyone who received this information we still have limited suspect details," Rose said. "Fortunately we've had no new reports of attempts since the two new ones last week here in Dodge."
Rose also reminded pet owners to keep their animals safe and secure, and to call the sheriff's office if they see anything suspicious.
"We're all pet lovers here and would love to catch this guy," he wrote.
Why would someone want to steal your dog?
The sheriff's office says the motive for these incidents is unknown. But dog theft is not uncommon.
In fact, nonprofit group PAWS says pet theft is on the rise, "as the economy fluctuates and the prospects of profiting from stealing a pet becomes more lucrative."
The organization says purebred dogs are most likely to be stolen since they can often be worth a few thousand dollars.
They offer these tips to keep your pet safe from dog thieves:
- Keep your pet indoors when you're not home.
- Don't let your pet roam free and unsupervised.
- Keep a collar and up-to-date ID in case they get lost, and consider getting your pet microchipped for extra security.
- Spay or neuter your pet – it lowers their desire to roam and medical laboratories often will not accept altered animals.
- When returning a stray animal to its rightful guardian, request proof of ownership.
- Be aware of strangers in the neighborhood, and keep a close eye on what is happening in your community.