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Safety of stolen puppies a concern

Pet store hopes for return of 3 valuable dogs

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Kenna Luke looks at some of the puppies for sale at Animal Ark in Orem. Three pups were stolen this week.

Kenna Luke looks at some of the puppies for sale at Animal Ark in Orem. Three pups were stolen this week.

Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning News

OREM — Shanna Painter has a pretty good idea of who stole three valuable dogs from the pet store she manages. And she has a message for the two men whom she suspects purloined the puppies.

"I would hope they have it in their hearts to bring the dogs back to the store, where people know how to take care of them," said Painter, the manager at Animal Ark, 33 W. Center.

"It's nerve-wracking to think about what could be happening to the dogs. It almost makes me teary-eyed thinking about it. Working here, you get attached to them. It feels like someone's taking your own dogs."

Police say overnight Tuesday someone threw a brick through the glass door at the front of the store and entered the business. A custodian saw the shattered door at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday and called the police.

A brown English bulldog was taken from its cage at the front of the store. Someone broke a door in the back to gain access to an area where a miniature dachshund and a Yorkshire terrier were being held. Those two dogs were also stolen. Combined, the three dogs have a sale value of $4,000.

Two men are being sought by police in connection with the dog-napping.

During a four-hour period on Tuesday afternoon, two men came into the store three different times.

"They were asking us a lot of questions about the bulldog and the Yorkie, the very ones that were stolen," Painter said. "Now when we look back, it seemed kind of fishy. It's a little too connected."

The two men were described as thin, white males in their 20s. One had a shaved head and the other sported a brown mullet haircut and wore a purple jacket, possibly a Charlotte Hornets jacket, according to police.

As far as Painter is concerned, the men stole the dogs with the intention of selling them for a quick profit.

"They only took certain dogs. They knew what they were after," she said. "The dogs they selected were the most valuable, the ones everyone wants — the Yorkie and the bulldog. I haven't figured out why they took the dachshund. But the bulldog and Yorkie are the most popular dogs. The people who stole them went after value."

Painter believes the men are likely trying to find buyers for the dogs.

"You'd be surprised how many dogs are sold that way," she said. "People will take dogs and go to a different state and sell them. You just don't know what these people will do. They may get nervous because of all of the publicity with this and ditch the dogs somewhere."

Painter expressed concern at the two men's lack of knowledge about caring for pups. She fears that may place the animals' lives in jeopardy. She said Yorkshire terriers can be "a little fragile," and if they don't eat at regular intervals, the result could be life-threatening.

At Animal Ark, she and the other employees are being more vigilant.

"Everybody's more cautious, looking at everyone (coming into the store)," Painter said. "I drove past the store twice (Wednesday) night because I was worried something like this was going to happen again. I couldn't stop thinking about it."

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com