A disturbing number of animals are turning up shot and dumped - left to die. It's a disturbing new development that has owners and police especially concerned.
NewsChannel 5 reported a spike in the number of canine thefts in Middle Tennessee that was possibly connected to a local theft ring.
That trend has grown more disturbing rather than just disappearing, they're being killed.
One beagle did survive. It was shot in the head and found dumped in a bag. Thankfully, veterinarians in Winchester were able to save the dog.
But others were not so lucky. Concerned citizens have sent in photos of dogs found shot and then dumped, some by the side of the road, in a half-dozen middle Tennessee counties.
"It think it's horrible and we need to figure out why it's happening and who is doing it," said Veterinarian Allison Fields at the Hermitage Animal Clinic in Davidson County.
These dogs were shot with guns in more rural counties. Now, many wonder if some of them were among the many stolen in recent months.
"This is a big problem of people taking dogs from people coming into the yard and just snatching them out of yards and just taking them," said Earl Stouzenberger earlier this year.
Someone stole one of his dogs. Police do check for chips in the dead dogs hoping to locate owners.
"Absolutely, I'm sure they have. Animal Control or police stations will have a scanner," said Fields.
But identifying the dogs doesn't solve the riddle of why they were shot and often dumped in public places. To date, no one has been charged or arrested in connection with the dog thefts or killings, and it continues to happen.
The bottomline: Catching those responsible is a longshot. The best and really only line of defense is to keep close watch on your pets.
Investigators say the shootings are difficult to explain. They ask anyone who witnesses it happening or know who might be involved to contact the local police or sheriff's department.