Local police have noted a disturbing increase in the amount of animals found to have been shot and dumped left to die.
Previously, Scripps station WTVF in Nashville reported a spike in the number of canine thefts in Middle Tennessee that was possibly connected to a local theft ring. Now, rather than just disappearing, the dogs are being killed.
One beagle did survive. It was shot in the head and found dumped in a bag. Thankfully, veterinarians in nearby 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 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.
The 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, who lost his dog Leia, earlier this year.
Police have been checking 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," Fields said.
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.
Catching those responsible is a long shot. The best and really only line of defense for local pet owners is to keep an eye on them.
Investigators say the shootings are difficult to explain. They are asking anyone who witnesses a shooting or has any information to contact a local police station or sheriff's office.