If you’re a dog owner in South Jersey, the SPCA has an important message for you. Keep a close eye on your pet, especially if you have a small one.
The Atlantic County SPCA posted a message on its Facebook Page, warning residents of a recent rash in dog thefts.
"We are becoming concerned with the large number of dogs missing/stolen recently," read the message. "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."
Officials say several small dogs have been reported missing in South Jersey within the last few months.
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"Probably at least a dozen or maybe two dozen," said Nancy Beall of the Atlantic County SPCA.
Topanga Vonte and Sylkia Flores say someone stole their beloved dog two weeks ago right in front of their Bridgeton home.
“Next thing you know, when I looked around, she was gone,” said Flores.
“I’m heartbroken,” said Vonte. “I feel like I lost my child.”
SPCA officials suspect some of the stolen pets are being used as bait in dog-fighting operations.
“These fights are awful,” said Beall. “They’re going on all over South Jersey and Philadelphia.”
Authorities also suspect some of the stolen dogs are being sold to research labs. If you have any information on any of the recent thefts, please call the Atlantic County SPCA at 609-927-9059.