Stolen dogs on the rise in the Peace region

“There have been a number of suspicious vehicles seen in the area,” explains Turner of Cecil Lake. “One of our neighbours to the east of us actually disrupted a lady from trying to coax another one of our neighbour’s dogs in her vehicle at 10:00 p.m. on Friday night.”

That was Friday, February 20, 2015, and Tanner says his dog went missing the very next day. He goes on to say that same “suspicious vehicle” spotted on Friday – described only as a white van – was also seen making “several slow drives” on Saturday.

“I’ve covered probably 15 square miles on a skidoo – numerous miles on a pick-up, looked in ditches, talked to every neighbour within miles around; scanning the bush for any signs that a predator got him or he just wandered off – which he didn’t,” Tanner affirms. “Part of what I do is tracking animals, and I can’t track that dog anywhere. He’s vanished.”

Tanner is a health and safety manager, but on his spare time, he’s also a breeder and trainer of hunting hounds – which has him tracking the dogs through the bush.

Branch Manager for the North Peace SPCA Candace Buchamer says there’s definitely a rise in reports of missing and/or stolen dogs, but as for them being stolen for the purpose of dog fighting – she says that’s so far unsubstantiated.

“Some of the dogs that have been stolen and have been found, have been mutilated in a manner that would suggest they were ripped apart by another animal,” Buchamer explains. “So there’s definitely concern there, but again there is no direct evidence [leading to dog fights.]”

Buchamer says she’s had reports of dogs being stolen in Fort St. John from Walmart, Totem Mall, and outside gas stations. She says these reports continue into Rolla, Cecil Lake and Farmington – with numbers in Dawson Creek skyrocketing over the past two years.

Buchamer says not enough people are reporting the crime directly to the RCMP.

“They’re saying that I’m the only one reporting a dog missing,” says Tanner.

The Fort St. John RCMP was unavailable for comment.

Buchamer says the best way to protect your pet is ensuring its safely secured.

“Keep your dog’s safe indoors,” Buchamer concludes. “Make sure you lock your homes up good and tight. If you have an outdoor dog, don’t just assume a dog on a chain is going to be safe because they are going into peoples’ fences and private property.”

If you see any suspicious activity, whether by car or otherwise, Buchamer says not to hesitate calling the RCMP with the information as this will help police build a file on stolen dogs from the Peace.