(VANCLEAVE, Miss.) - Five teenagers have been busted for breaking into a Mississippi kennel and stealing world-class competition fox hounds, but the owner says six of those dogs are still missing.
“Those dogs become very close to you,” owner and breeder J.W. Webber told Local 15, “It’s like losing a member of the family.”
Investigators believe the teens drove to the remote kennel in the dark of night Nov. 15 and Nov. 18, stealing a total of seven dogs though 10 have been reported missing.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Department found four of the dogs at one of the suspects’ homes, but six hounds including a world cup champion are still missing.
Webber said the teens didn’t even realize how valuable the dogs were, and were just looking to steal dogs they could take hunting.
“They didn’t know, some of those dogs, pups that they would have would sell for a high price,” Webber said. “You’re lookin’ at probably a $100,000 dog.”
Webber said he was on the cusp of winning an unprecedented fourth consecutive Kennel of the Year award, but now his prize hounds are missing one week before the world cup competition.
“The whole family is sad,” Webber said. “We’re disappointed.”
Ironically, Webber said the teens could have simply asked him for a free hunting hound.
“Not all dogs make champions, and we can’t keep them,” Webber said. “I don’t sell them, so I find a good home for them. That would have been a good opportunity to give those young boys a nice Christmas present, a couple dogs each, and all they had to do was ask.”
Webber said the teens apparently let some of the dogs loose to hunt along Dog River, but the hounds didn’t come back. Webber is becoming increasingly worried because the dogs have been without food, not to mention exposed to other dangers like being hit by a car.
Webber is offering a reward of $2000 for the return of all six hounds, and $250 for each individual dog.