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Police Warn Dog Owners After More Than A Dozen Pets Disappear

Authorities in New York's St. Lawrence County have warned dog owners to keep a close eye on their pets after a string of more than a dozen suspected dognappings over the past three weeks, the Associated Press reports.

"Don't let your dog out of your sight," St. Lawrence County Animal Control Officer James McConkey told Syracuse.com. "If someone suspicious comes along, call the police. Don't confront anybody. If these people are desperate enough to steal a dog, who knows what they might do to you."

Since the end of November, 15 dogs have mysteriously disappeared in the area. No one knows who is taking the dogs or why, but officials believe the animals may be being resold as Christmas gifts or trained to be used in crime.

"It can be a number of reasons," McConkey told WWNY-TV. "It could be a dog fighting ring. They could be stealing them to resell under the guise of rehoming fees for dogs, like flipping a house, they're flipping dogs. Could be someone is taking them to train them. There's been a lot of drug busts in the area lately. Someone could be trying to train the dog to be vicious."

On two occasions, attempted dognappers were caught in the act, but both times they managed to escape.

"It's like they took a member of our family," one victim, whose Collie named Rusty went missing last week, told The Huffington Post. "It's just one of the worst feelings in the world."

Click here to learn more about how to keep your dog safe or call the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office at (315) 379-2222 if you have any information about the missing pets.