CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- For many families, their pets are a valued member of the family.
When something happens to that pet, it can feel like a piece of your heart is gone. That's the agony several dog owners are feeling.
Some have lost their dogs and found them. Others are still missing. But, they all may have one thing in common. All of the dogs may not have wandered off at all.
They may have been stolen, and all of the evidence is pointing toward one woman.
Cabell County Sheriff's Detective William Templeton has built a pretty extensive theft case surrounding more than 100 dogs and some cats.
“All of these papers here are different animals that have been taken to Help for Animals from this suspect," Templeton said. "But I can't prove she stole them."
Yet Templeton senses something's just not right. It starts with Jim Daniels whose dog Max went missing several weeks ago. He's since recovered Max, but not without a long ordeal that includes the grief of his grandson, who has special needs and had grown close to the Yorkie.
“Oh, it devastated him,” Daniels said.
But, maybe even more devastating was who took him and how.
“A lady come up and took him off the leash and went back to a red car,” Templeton said.
Neighbors witnessed the "dognapping" right out of Daniel's front yard and recognized the thief as a neighbor who lives just a few houses down from him. It's a neighbor he's known all her life -- a woman he calls a dog fanatic who runs a suspicious dog rescue operation where she refers to herself on her webpage as an unofficial animal rescuer.
“With all the missing dogs, this girl is bootlegging dogs. She's stealing them and selling them,” Daniels said.
Her webpage quotes some pretty heavy duty fees for up to $200 for adoption and up to $3,000 to purchase a dog.
“He's my baby. He's mine. My husband bought him for me last Christmas,” Carla Linville said.
Linville's dog Nick, a beautiful Sheltie, recently went missing in the same end of the Cabell County. She's confident he didn't wander off.
“He just doesn’t do that," Linville said. "I have five dogs, and they always travel in a pack."
So, while one family is reunited with their beloved pet, another is still waiting, looking, posting flyers and placing ads -- fearing the worst and hoping for the best.
“I can't function,” Linville said.
Templeton says he knows who the suspect is, and he plans to file charges eventually against her in the theft of Daniels’ dog. She hasn't been charged with anything yet.
Linville just wants her dog back
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