Back Mountain residents are on the lookout after a blue SUV was spotted pulling into area driveways, the driver and passenger taking pictures and looking into yards, said Tracey Morgan-Chopick, of Luzerne County Pet Recovery Services.
Whether the vehicle and its occupants were in neighborhoods on business or scoping out properties for illegal purposes is unknown at this time, but chatter on Facebook is raising awareness in the community.
Police departments in the Back Mountain have not received any reports about the SUV.
“We have not received any calls,” said Assistant Dallas Township Police Chief Douglas J. Higgins.
Although Morgan-Chopick could not confirm the purpose of the picture-taking, she did say dogs are typically stolen from yards for one of three reasons: to be trained or used as bait for dog fighting, to sell or held onto in hopes of obtaining reward money.
“I don’t know how many are stolen (annually),” she said. “But I think that number is small (for the Back Mountain region).”
Residents are on alert and watching their dogs. Blair Welter, with Kunkle Kennels in Dallas, said her mother in Lake Township saw the SUV slow down and look into her front yard.
Friends of Welter who had the same experience were able to get the first three digits of the vehicle’s licence plate: JWE.
“I have no proof that they (the SUV driver and passenger) are looking to steal dogs,” Welter said.
Morgan-Chopick, a humane officer for Blue Chip Farms Animal Rescue in Franklin Township and owner of the Luzerne County Pet Recovery Services, said sometimes dog thieves will put a sticker or ribbon on a fence if they plan to come back for a dog.
Canine owners should always be watchful and never let their dogs outside without supervision, Morgan-Chopick said.
“Would you leave a baby outside unsupervised?” she asked. “Treat your dog the same way.”
If the furry family member should escape from its yard, or is taken, Morgan-Chopick offers the following advice:
• Try to remain calm;
• Call the local police department;
• Call Luzerne County SPCA and Blue Chip Farm Animal Rescue;
• Call a pet recovery service such as Luzerne County Pet Recovery or Bellabon’s Pet Recovery Services;
• Put a scented item outside, such as a shirt or the dog’s bed; and
• Put some of the dog’s food outside.
“Dogs will often circle back to their home,” she said. “I can’t stress this enough — if you see a lost dog, do not chase it.”
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.