Potential pet thefts discussed at community meeting

The number of posts on social media about potential pet thefts has reached a new high. The accounts are from nearly every county in the Local 6 area and have a lot of similarities. They include a suspect, or suspects trying to lure dogs into their vehicle. The posts allude to dog fighting rings or pet flipping.

McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden said his department has received more calls this week about it so he called a community-wide meeting to get people and law enforcement all on the same page. Sheriffs from Ballard, Calloway, Graves, Marshall, Livingston counties and Paducah and Calvert City police were all in attendance as well as animal control officers from McCracken, Crittenden, Marshall, and Livingston counties. Three McCracken County commissioners were there, too.

Dozens of people from all of the surrounding counties packed the courtroom to hear what they had to say. Hayden said he wanted to set a few things straight. He said there are far more Facebook posts about stolen dogs than actual reports. He has had two for the year of 2015 so far and neither indicated there were suspects trying to pick up the pets. He also said there is no indication that there is any type of dog fighting circle in the area.

In addition to calming fears, Hayden said he wanted people to know they have to report stolen pets if they want law enforcement to get involved.

“We need to know,” he said. “Don’t report on Facebook. Report it to authorities.”

All the other law enforcement agreed, but people in the crowd voiced concerns that they hadn’t or wouldn’t be take seriously if they called in about a missing animal. Sheriff Hayden said anyone who is not happy about how they are treated reporting a crime should ask for a supervisor and report the officer.

Other pet owners expressed the need for neighbors to get together to watch out for each others animals, and for suspicious vehicles. They agreed the more eyes out watching, the better the chance of catching a potential crime.

Sheriffs also agreed there needs to be more communication between county animal control officers about animals reported missing or stolen. Everyone agreed more focus will be on potential animal thefts for the time being and pet owners need to take every precaution to keep their animals safe.

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