A Twin Falls Animal Shelter board member has compiled a list of 34 dogs that have reportedly gone missing in the Magic Valley area since Feb. 1, some from fenced home yards and locked areas.
Amber Halsell said she began keeping a list after noticing an unusually large number of disappearing pets and strange circumstances. (See her list of the missing dogs and locations below story).
"It's been going on at least since December," said Halsell, who now does daily checks of Craigslist and social media sites where people post missing pet information. Also curious about these cases, she said, is that the dogs haven't been found by others, alive or dead.
"The dogs have just disappeared without a trace ... they're just gone," Halsell said.
Shelter staff hope residents will report anything suspicious that might lead to information about where the dogs are going.
It's unknown if the increase in missing dogs is connected with the recent killing of a German shepherd. The dog's body was found on March 12 in Devil's Corral near Twin Falls. The dog's head had been obliterated, apparently bashed in with a block of concrete nearby. The dog's body was covered in a purple sheet, and some have speculated that it may have been an occult or ritualistic killing of some sort.
News of the missing dogs and possible ritualistic killing has spread fast, with national and international news outlets carrying stories Thursday, including USA Today, The New York Daily News, and The Toronto Sun.
The Humane Society of the United States has offered a $5,000 reward leading to the conviction of the person who bludgeoned the dog to death. A spokesman for the Jerome County Sheriff's Office said Thursday afternoon that no one has filed a report about the dog, so it is not currently under investigation.
"This is a very rural area. Most people, when they have a dog missing, the last people they call is the police," Halsell said. "We've been doing our best to encourage people to call. I think they think that it's trivial to the police, so they're not going to bother them with that."
Lisa Kauffman, a Boise-based spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States, said there may be several unrelated issues, including dogs abducted for dog fighting. The dogs that have gone missing in the Gooding and Wendell area seem to be primarily boxers, pit bulls, German Shepherds and Rottweiler mixes dogs that might be used as bait in for dog fighting.
Over the weekend, Halsell said someone pried open a locked gate and took three Golden Retrievers from a Twin Falls home. The dogs were later found on the street, and strangers delivered them to the shelter. One of the dogs died over night. Halsell said the owners indicated that dog had a seizure disorder, but no necropsy was done on the dog to determine why it died.
The Twin Falls Animal Shelter posted a warning on its Facebook page Thursday: "In light of the recent missing dogs we are wanting to remind everyone to keep their dogs contained as much as possible for a loose dog is a dog in danger."
"They're not safe in backyards. They're not safe in chains. And they're not safe in dog runs," Halsell said. She encouraged people to keep their pets inside or in a garage.
Reports of missing dogs continued Thursday morning. The owner of a pair of Collies in Twin Falls told a reporter at The Times-News that someone had dog-napped the Collies from a fenced yard.
Later in the day, she said she heard a car leaving the area at the same time the Collies re-appeared.
A spokeswoman for the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Department said she was unaware of reports of missing dogs within the county she said they were either in the city of Twin Falls, or in neighboring Jerome County. A phone call to the Twin Falls Police Department Thursday was not returned.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413
Here's Halsell's list of the locations, dates and breeds of dog that have gone missing since Feb. 1:
2/1/13 Choc lab puppy, Locust in Twin Falls
2/1/13 Mini schnauzer, Paul
2/2/13 Yellow lab, 3700 S, Twin Falls
2/4/13 Pitbull/boxer cross, Monroe Street near CSI in Twin Falls
2/4/13 Boxer, Heyburn
2/4/13 Min pin/Boston terrier puppy, Gooding
2/7/13 Pitbull puppy, 3900 North in Filer
2/8/13 Boxer, 3060 S, south of Wendell
2/9/13 German shepherd, Heyburn
2/12/13 German wire hair, Twin Falls
2/12/13 St. Bernard, south of Wendell
2/19/13 Schnauzer, Falls and Grandview, Twin Falls
2/26/13 Pitbull puppy, 4th and Date, Jerome
2/26/13 Dachshund, Wirsching and Grandview, Twin Falls
2/27/13 Golden Retriever, Filer
2/28/13 Maltese, Parkwood subdivision, Twin Falls
3/2/13 Pitbull, Victory Ave, Twin Falls
3/2/13 Border Collie Cross, South of Kimberly
3/2/13 Boxer, south of Wendell
3/3/13 Boxer, Hagerman
3/4/13 Jack Russel Terrier, Lacasa, Twin Falls
3/4/13 Terrier cross, Filer Ave, Twin Falls
3/8/13 Chihuahua, Gooding
3/8/13 German Shepherd, south of Twin Falls
3/10/13 Black German Shepherd, Acequia/Rupert
3/10/13 Female German Shep. AND male German Shep/Rottweiler, south of Wendell
3/10/13 Male German Shepherd, Jerome
3/13/13 Schnauzer, 6th Ave, Twin Falls
3/16/13 Lhasa apso, Jerome
3/16/13 Great Dane, Jerome
3/16/13 Pitbull cross, Jackson St, Twin Falls
3/17/13 Pitbull cross, Twin Falls
3/18/13 Pug, Twin Falls
3/18/13 Dachshund, Hansen