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Dognapping stories cause concern
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DARLINGTON - Recent reports on social media and a particularly violent end to a dog believed to be stolen from a home in rural Darlington have left residents of Lafayette, Grant and Iowa counties fearful for their pets.

Lafayette County Sheriff Reg Gill has heard of missing dog complaints as recently as Thursday but said a case of proven dognapping rarely crosses his desk.

"It's hard to confirm whether or not they're dognapped or they've run away," Gill said. "We took a complaint of a missing dog yesterday. We were going to take one this morning, but it was found again before we could put out the report."

A Facebook post about a woman attempting to pick up a dog along a sidewalk in Dodgeville has circulated along with reports of missing dogs from rural areas. Reports span across the three counties, and a notable event for the Darlington area was reported Wednesday. Local residents who live on a farm said their 1-year-old German shepherd was taken from their yard. Bo, the family dog, was missing for two weeks and received social media and news coverage. On Wednesday morning, he was found dead in a ditch 30 miles away from the family farm; he had been shot.

Authorities are still searching for the people responsible. Police have not determined the reason Bo was taken and killed. Gill said a common reason for people is simply to have a pet of their own. Another, he said, is to sell the dog. Gill noted that the influx of complaints has been troubling but that the highly visible nature of the case with Bo - driven by owner Sarah Crist's efforts to shine light on the situation - could be creating more concern among those with dogs throughout the neighboring counties. He said given the rise in reports, people "should probably be more conscious of suspicious vehicles."

Though Gill added that if this was a common occurrence, it was a widespread event that was not being reported to local authorities. He also said it is good to have a well-distributed awareness of a problem, even if it is unusual to have dognapping cases within the county.

"Be mindful of where your dog is and be mindful of where it goes," Gill said.

The Lafayette County Sheriff added that department officers are working in conjunction with the other counties to keep track of any dogs reported as stolen.