Wyoming Missing Canines group claims 170 dogs stolen from Casper owners

2013-12-05T07:00:00Z 2013-12-05T14:45:05Z Wyoming Missing Canines group claims 170 dogs stolen from Casper ownersBy LAURA HANCOCK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

A Casper citizens’ group says an underground ring of thieves is stealing dogs and selling them for profit, with 170 canines possibly taken from the area.

But there’s some room for doubt because Wyoming Missing Canines’ numbers don’t match official tallies. Casper Police Department has reports of only six missing dogs since January and Metro Animal Control counts 41 animals that have been reported lost or reported found by people who are not their owners. Additionally, the executive director of an animal medical nonprofit said he doubts a theft ring is operating in Casper.

Yet the president of the board of the Casper Humane Society said the number of missing dogs that have not been returned to their owners is up.

Wednesday morning, organizers with Wyoming Missing Canines held a media conference at City Hall, hoping to bring attention to the alleged dognappings. Mayor Kenyne Schlager, Police Chief Chris Walsh and others from the city attended, saying they wanted to promote responsible dog ownership.

“It’s never a bad thing to have responsible pet ownership,” City Manager John Patterson said.

Missing dogs?

Valerie Kulhavy lost her yellow lab, Daisy, in June. She was attending an out-of-state wedding and left Daisy with friends. Daisy disappeared without a trace on Cole Creek Road, Kulhavy said.

Kulhavy hit social media in attempts to find Daisy and discovered there were missing dogs in Casper and Natrona County. She helped organize Wyoming Missing Canines and is convinced one sick puppy is taking dogs.

From June 1 to Oct. 1, there were 227 dogs called in to the Casper Human Society as missing. Fifty-seven have been found, leaving open the possibility that the others were stolen, Kulhavy said.

Sally Reinhart, board president of the Casper Humane Society, believes the number of missing dogs is on the rise. But she didn’t have comparable numbers from the same time period last year because missing reports are thrown out after six months.

“We probably can’t prove anything but we’ve had more missing dog reports in this time period than we’ve ever had,” she said. “We can’t say they’ve all been stolen because we don’t [know] what happened to them.”

Normally, dogs find their way back home in a few days or they get picked up by people who read their tags and find the owners. But this year “some of the people are still looking for them and it’s been months,” she said.

Kulhavy said social media posts have described a suspicious vehicle — an older, blue Toyota 4Runner — and the actions of some suspicious people, including two people who eyed a yellow lab with one saying, “I found one,” in reference to the dog.

“We’ve found indications that there is a theft ring,” she said, adding that on some days, no dogs go missing and on other days, eight dogs are reported missing.

Kulhavy said her group has conducted exhaustive tracking, creating pages of spreadsheets to document the missing dogs.

The dognappers’ preferred breeds are pugs and yellow labs, Kulhavy claims.

Locations of theft have been mostly in downtown Casper, east of Beverly Street, she added.

The dognappers’ motive is money, according to Kulhavy. They can fetch big money by selling the dogs on or to pet stores that don’t suspect theft. The dogs could be resold to someone who organizes dog fights, she said.

Some doubt

Preston Pilant is executive director of the Pet Ring Foundation, which raises money for veterinary care for owners who can’t afford it. Pilant doesn’t believe the claims of Wyoming Missing Canines. While Pilant believes dogs have been snatched since the beginnings of their domestication, he doubts there is a theft ring operating in Casper.

“I truly believe nine out of 10 dogs that go missing are runaways,” he said. “I don’t think it is a big ring of dognappers.”

Pilant helps with Metro’s spay and neuter clinics and said he saw a pug that had previously been described as stolen on Wyoming Missing Canines’ Facebook page.

“There were two basset hounds that the guy swore up and down that someone had cut his lock,” Pilant said. “They sat at Metro for three days before the owner claimed them.”

Pilant advised owners of missing dogs to check Metro in person. There’s a chance that Metro staff accidentally mistyped into their computer system a chocolate lab as a female instead of male. When you call, they may say that your dog isn’t at the shelter when it actually is.

“After seven days, guess what? That dog goes up for adoption,” he said.

On the alert

Casper Police Capt. Mark Trimble said owners of missing dogs can notify the Police Department by calling dispatch or report a missing pet online. Owners need to check with Metro, the Human Society and neighbors say.

Contacting Metro is more effective than merely posting a picture on Facebook, Mayor Schlager said.

“We want to make sure the Police Department is not inundated with reports,” she said.

If you see a car circling your street, take notice. Don’t let anyone follow you from the pet store, Kulhavy said.

“Be cautious when you go to the dog park that you are not followed home,” she said.

Alleged dognappers have left gates open to make it look like the owners were negligent, even once tampering with a gate lock, Kulhavy said.

“The main issue is to keep your dogs in because if they’re inside, you can be sure they’re not taken,” she said.

Walsh, the police chief, encouraged owners to go to Metro and have their dogs implanted with microchips with an owner’s identity and contact information. Shelters have equipment to find the microchips and read the information.

Metro manager Tory Cutrell said microchip services are offered for $20.

Reach state reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(23) Comments

  1. riverfish
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    riverfish - December 11, 2013 1:41 pm
    For dog folks y'all seem a little, well, catty...
  2. The Animal's voice
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    The Animal's voice - December 06, 2013 8:28 am
    I will say that I think what you and your organization does is a great thing and as an animal lover who spent over $7,000 in my saint Bernard's lifetime on vet bills, I appreciate what you do!

    As to you your comment about abducting your dogs, really? No, I'm trying to prevent dogs from getting abducted. I would never wish harm to anyone or their pets especially.

    The comment you mention about the dog on the side of the road.. I am not familiar with this atory and rather than holding it against us, as an animal advocate; you should have told us so that we can update out records & flyers. As you are so in tune with chc and metro then I am sure you know that people that find their animals "forget" to let the shelters know this therefore; leaving the pet as one of the #'s of missing dogs!

    As far as the brindle pup on our face book page if you continue to read the comments.. She now says she believes the dog was let out. We never said that dog was stolen but we did ask detailed questions of how it got out. We have never tried to convince anyone to believe their dog was stolen so please stop insinuating that!

    Now just so you know... I am going to chc today to follow up on the missing dog reports not because you mentioned this in the article
    But because I am payed off fr my job as of yesterday and I now have time to do so!

    Sheila Feeback
  3. SAM13
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    SAM13 - December 06, 2013 1:08 am
    Pdawg - as a person who claims to be an advocate for animals, I am curious as to just why are you so quick to discount what our group has to say? How can you be positive there is no dog theft rings here? Do you know where the remaining unaccounted for dogs are? No? I didn't think so. As for what information we have compiled and documented to support our suspicions, you are not privy to all of it, nor will you be. To assume you know everything surrounding these matters, and to attempt to make us look like we are " crying wolf ", is ignorant on your part. We are investigating this issue, with a team of dedicated, and multitalented individuals. We will continue to do so until we find the answers we are looking for. So, please, either contribute in a constructive fashion, or be quiet and stand aside.
    Sherry Motsch
    Wyoming Missing Canines
  4. SAM13
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    SAM13 - December 06, 2013 12:40 am
    P Dawg...for someone who claims to be "karma covered", and an animal advocate I'm curious as to why you are so quick to discount another agencies efforts? Can you prove than there is no theft ring here? I didn't think so.... And really, I am not curious as to your motives for bashing our group, because I do not really care. I do however care about dogs going missing. And I care about the families that are now missing family members. You are not privy to all the evidence we have documented. Nor will you be, and to insinuate you do is ignorant on your part. Working together with all agencies is in everyone's best interest. It is obvious you are more concerned with tooting your own horn. So, I say to you, Mr P Dawg...toot away. We, the Missing Canines Group will keep doing our mission of getting to the bottom of the task at hand, which is missing dogs.
  5. Pdawg
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    Pdawg - December 05, 2013 7:03 pm
    wow my spell check epically fails....
  6. Pdawg
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    Pdawg - December 05, 2013 7:02 pm

    1st allow me to say I 100% believe in Karma and with aiding more then $85,000 in animal medical care to Casper Citizens who couldn't afford it since our creation in 2006 I'm pretty sure I am well covered by Karma unless your threating to abduct my dogs.

    2nd I spoke to the shelter manger yesterday and as of yet there has been no attempt to contact the previously reported missing animals. Although there is a PLAN to begin, like I said your count of 170 dogs is an incorrect and unverified number. There is a reason Metro doesn't hold those numbers past 30days because dogs come back. Dogs get reunited and some never return home.

    Another example the dog claimed stolen who was found laying on the side of the road asleep. It was reported to metro there was a deceased dog laying on the side of the road. Thankfully he wasn't deceased he was merely sleeping in a snow bank and was deaf so the cars didn't bother him to be driving by. This animal is on your own poster as as "missing" canine, but he is right at home where he belongs.

    As far as copper goes The oprginal person who found that dog, owns a local restraint here. They contacted metro and CHS. No one came forward and they were going to keep him as they had him for several months. They did not STEAL that dog. So yes they did report it to metro and CHS that it was found. But because of whatever reason that information was not relayed or did not make it to the owner. The dog escaped and they physically when to metro to claim the dog.. I don't work at metro I couldn't tell you why the information was never relayed, however I have seen countless people call and attempt claim their animals but because of human error they are told the animal is not there.

    Your group or members of your group have contacted countless individuals explaining to them and changing their minds. The brindle pup owner previously stated her dog ran away. Something it has done several times since she got it. After visiting with your group its now claimed stolen. I have no doubts it will turn up at metro if it hasn't already.

    What you fail to realize claiming every dog missing is stolen by this ring of folks is actually taken away from those that their animals who truly are stolen. Do you recall the story of the boy who cried wolf?

  7. brown bomber
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    brown bomber - December 05, 2013 6:11 pm
    now thats funny i dont care who you are bob barker would be proud
  8. The Animal's voice
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    The Animal's voice - December 05, 2013 2:40 pm
    P Dawg (who I assume is Preston Pilant himself) - I am not sure where you are getting your information from but the story you posted about the dog being recovered by us is completely inaccurate! I am a member of Wyoming Missing Canines and I was also the one who went to a lady's house to recover Copper who had been missing since July 9th. The dog was originally stolen (the thief left the collar in from of the house) then we got an anonymous tip that the lady who had the dog knew it was Copper and that she stole him however; she claimed to have found him. She never took the dog to Metro or CHC becuase she claims "she thought" he had been dumped. The original owner had posted flyers everywhere (including the place she thought she was found) including putting his picture in the paper and he was on the news so how this lady didn't know who he was is total BS! Unfortunately; because the anonymous tipper wanted to remain anonymous the officer (yes, I called the PD & made a report) could not do anything about it althought he felt as well as I, that she was lying!

    Also.... yes, we are in the process of making follow up calls to all the owners of the missing dogs given to us by CHC. If you had actually listened to what Val said in the press conference, she never once stated that all the dogs were stolen; that the count is how many are missing! These #'s we got were from CHC who holds documentation a lot longer than Metro so no wonder why Metro does not have the count to match however; we will be working together to get this improved. To sit here and bash us without knowing your facts is really unfortunate and will not help these dogs get home. We need to pull together as a community and if you are not willing to participate in that then I say you are not in it for the right reasons and need to keep your false accusations to yourself. Do you know what Karma is? If not let me remind you... what comes around goes around!

    Sheila Feeback - Wyoming Missing Canines
  9. VKulhavy
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    VKulhavy - December 05, 2013 1:57 pm
    Pdawg, you are misinformed on a lot of stuff. My son's dog is one of those claimed missing dogs, and I don't need a phone call from WMC to tell you it is still gone. So is Genny Trickett's, Kristl James', Mike Roden's two dogs, Audra Nunes, and I could go on and on. It must be nice to live with a blindfold on and believe the best of everyone. So did I until I saw the facts that WMC has. Be happy in your Ignorance and watch dogs just disappear. Maybe you are in on it? Otherwise I am not sure why you would be so adamant to say it isn't happening.
  10. mason76
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    mason76 - December 05, 2013 11:34 am
    In other news, new Vietnamese restaurant opens its doors in Casper.
  11. Pdawg
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    Pdawg - December 05, 2013 10:32 am
    Savage ~ I'm not saying thefts don't occur, one of our employees had an Albino White German Sheppard that was imported from Germany stolen from the back of his truck while he to was in a C-Store. Although this was over 9 years ago the dog was never recovered. What I am doubting is the facts in this case. of the 170 dogs reporting missing there is no proof these dogs are still missing. Of the 170 I'd bet only 15-30 are still truly missing. And those could be either deceased because of a car, poisoned because of a cruel person, or taken by someone who couldn't find the owner. There was just an example of that with the Dog the WMC group helped return home who was missing for 4 months. The owners of Sandfords found him, tried to find the owner. Put up flyers called CHS and Metro and no one came forward looking for this dog. He ended up escaping and the original owner came forward to claim him while he was at metro 4 months later. These are not "witty remarks" these are facts.
  12. 99Savage
    Report Abuse
    99Savage - December 05, 2013 9:48 am
    Pdawg, Couchpotato - yea, right. A good friend of mine had a $1200 Black Lab that he had invested $3000 in professional training stolen out of a kennel in the back of his truck while he went into a convenience store. Tell me that that's not felony theft. He never did get his dog back. So go ahead potato, make your witty remarks and show us all how brilliant you are.
  13. Couchpotato
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    Couchpotato - December 05, 2013 9:24 am
    I say have LE send all missing dog calls to Savage.
  14. Pdawg
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    Pdawg - December 05, 2013 9:17 am
    Annell I do believe dog theft rings occur, there are reports all over teh US. But this happens in large populated areas. Why would someone drive 2 1/2 hours to steal non registered non-papered dogs? As far as dog fight rings. I'm not sure where you get your facts from, but they don't steal dogs for fight rings. A fight ring is on the DL why would they want to attract attention? You need to visit California where the majority actually take place. They rings, raise their own dogs for the purpose of being bait dogs. Often times it is the runts of the litters or the dogs they know won't fight or win them money. They also select some of teh 100,000 free to a good home animals. An example of that is located on our board. Rita.
  15. Pdawg
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    Pdawg - December 05, 2013 9:11 am
    Also they are scheduled to begin follow up calls, but as of yet WMC has not yet contacted the owners.
  16. Pdawg
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    Pdawg - December 05, 2013 9:11 am
    I have the reports and I have looked at them Annell, however I'm sorry, but I'm not a believer.
  17. grantalg
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    grantalg - December 05, 2013 8:44 am
    Pdawg I just want you to be aware that nationally dog theft rings are on the rise! Every week there are new reports of them. Also, WMC has volunteers working on the follow up calls to the missing dog reports. When u become involved and look at the compiled stats you would be a believer!
  18. Pdawg
    Report Abuse
    Pdawg - December 05, 2013 8:34 am
    Savage most of the dogs suspected of theft are mixed breed unpapered dogs you wouldn't get that much money for an unpapered dog, considering that craigslist is filled with the same animals for free to a good home.
  19. Pdawg
    Report Abuse
    Pdawg - December 05, 2013 8:26 am
    It should be mentioned that not one of those claimed 170 missing dogs have been contacted to ask if their animal is still missing or if it was found or returned home. The humane society does not follow up, they only take the report. Of the 200 plus calls they got 57 called back to report they found them. The other 170 have not been verified as still missing. Thus these numbers are inaccurate of "still missing" animals. These are only numbers of reported animals since June of 2013. A lot of times a owner will report their dog missing so if someone brings it in it can be returned. However rarely to report that the animal has been found or returned home. I spoke to the shelter manger yesterday and she stated there are no follow up calls to verify if the animal is still missing.
  20. 99Savage
    Report Abuse
    99Savage - December 05, 2013 8:22 am
    If you suspect your dog has been stolen, don't expect much help from LE. They treat you like you must be an irresponsible dog owner and they generally don't want to be bothered. The problem is that some of these dogs are very valuable to the point that their theft would constitute a felony. Dog theft rings do exist for what purposes I don't know. But again, don't expect much help from LE just because we pay their wages.
  21. nls
    Report Abuse
    nls - December 05, 2013 8:09 am
    It could be irresponsible pet owners but not that many, I believe there are some trash people out their stealing pets, because they are worthless individuals who don't want to work for a living and are scum..People need to be on the look out .
    And Wyoboy.. I doubt the animals are being put on a dinner plate...
  22. 307wyoboy
    Report Abuse
    307wyoboy - December 05, 2013 7:46 am
    There are a lot of new restaurant's on the east side of town. With meat prices on the rise and not a whole lot of health inspection going on. One can only wonder just sayin
  23. Mo
    Report Abuse
    Mo - December 05, 2013 7:12 am
    Responsible dog ownership? Good luck with that. The number of missing dogs in Casper is up because the number of irresponsible pet owners is up.
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