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Writing and Reporting by Jenna Duncan

4 of 9 pups taken in Sterling returned Shelter receives anonymous tip

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Published on March 18, 2011 in The Boston Globe, Page B2

Leigh Grady knew something was wrong when she came to work yesterday.

The normally rowdy animals in the Sterling Animal Shelter were relatively quiet, “like they knew something was going on, and they were traumatized,” she said.

Grady, the shelter’s executive director, said the shelter’s side door had been kicked off the hinge, five of the kennel doors had been opened, and nine puppies were taken.

Police are investigating the theft of a variety of mixed breeds from four litters, ranging in age from 10 to 14 weeks.

Jennifer Wooliscroft, a spokesman for the Animal Rescue League, said last night that four of the dogs have been returned, thanks to an anonymous tip.

Staff at the shelter are particularly concerned because all of the puppies were spayed or neutered on Wednesday and are in need of medication. Grady personally offered a $1,000 reward for their return – no questions asked.

“We just want to make sure they’re OK,” she said. “We’re all pretty upset and devastated.”

Police took photographs and dusted for fingerprints at the shelter.

Police Chief Gary Chamberland said the department’s best lead is a stolen vehicle that had been abandoned in the area.

Police have reached out to nearby police departments and animal control units, asking to keep an eye out for the dogs.

“I’ve never seen this number of dogs taken from a shelter,” said Chamberland. “I would say it’s kind of unusual.”

Additionally, a Saber Alert was sent out yesterday, informing animal control officers and animal care professionals across the state of the missing dogs, an official from the Animal Rescue League of Boston said.

Lieutenant Alan Borgal, director of the center for animal protection at the Animal Rescue League, said he had not seen a puppy theft of this magnitude in a while. He said more thefts happen at pet shops, and people tend to only take one or two dogs.

“I think it’s very sad that these were young dogs, and I think the only market is to sell these on the street or go out of the state,” said Borgal, who has also notified New Hampshire authorities.

The shelter received the puppies from other rescue groups in Tennessee and Virginia, where they were either picked up as strays, left at a shelter, or were at a kill shelter where they could have been euthanized.

Anyone with information on the puppies still missing is urged to call the Sterling Animal Shelter at 978-422-8585 or Sterling Police at 978-422-7331.

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Written by jdunccc

March 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Posted in The Boston Globe

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