Thieves target puppy in Liberty County

Four-month-old Boss is an English Bulldog puppy stolen from his owner's home. A reward is being offered for his safe return

April 29, 2010 4:45:31 PM PDT
Prosecutors say the theft of dogs is a growing problem. They've been trying to get something done about it for a year or so, as family pets are stolen to be used as bait for dog fights.

Four-month-old English bulldog Boss was stolen earlier this month from inside the Liberty County home of April Manners.

"He belongs to his family, and that family is us, and we're hurting," Manners said. "I mean I feel like I've lost a kid."

Authorities say thieves also took a flat-screen TV, her son's Wii, and her wedding ring. Theft of the dog, she says, hurt the children more than anyone.

Manners thinks the dog was taken because of its value.

"We paid $1,800 for him because he had the blue eye," she said.

Animal cruelty prosecutors say they are hearing of more and more dogs being stolen. Not any one breed.

And the reason why is unsettling to any animal lover.

"It's not uncommon for dogfighters to steal animals to train their dogs to fight," Harris County Assistant District Attorney Belinda Smith said.

Dog fighting continues to be a problem not just around Harris County but the nation. In November 2008, the largest dog fighting bust ever in the country took place in Harris County.

To stop thefts, prosecutors tried but failed in the last legislature to get a law passed to make it a felony to steal a pet. Right now, the law considers theft of any animal worth less than $1,500 a misdemeanor.

Prosecutions aside, Manners and her family just want their little guy back.

"And I worry if they're taking care of him," Manners said.

The Liberty County Sheriff's Office is investigating that theft. They can't say the dog was stolen to be used as bait for dog fights.

The Manners family is offering a $1,000 for information leading to Boss' safe return.

Crime Stoppers has posted a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the dog's theft. If you know anything about it, you can call 713-222-8477.

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