Stolen puppies’ health leaves breeder concerned

By David J. Coehrs -

The overnight theft of nine purebred German Shepard puppies from his father’s property has left David Patterson both wary and concerned for the newborns.

Between the late hours of Feb. 13 and the early hours of Feb. 14 one or more persons entered an outbuilding on property on County Road G in German Township and stole the barely three-day-old litter. They left behind a frantic canine mother and one puppy, which is presumed to have been left accidentally and which apparently died from the cold weather.

Patterson, the property owner’s son, reported the theft to the Fulton County Sheriff’s office the morning of Valentine’s Day after his father discovered the door to the building wide open and Patterson later noticed the puppies were gone.

Raising and selling purebred German Shepard puppies, a joint venture between Patterson and his father, brings $900 each for females and $850 each for males. The stolen puppies would have grossed nearly $8,000, making the theft a fifth-degree felony.

Patterson had twice checked on the puppies and their mother, a five-year-old purebred German Shepard named Brandy, on that Saturday, and found them well. The next morning Patterson’s father found the outbuilding door open as he went to maintain the building’s heater. He didn’t hear activity from the dogs but didn’t want to bother them.

“He didn’t think anything of it. He didn’t want to disturb the mom and the puppies,” Patterson said.

Later, when Patterson arrived from his Delta home to assist his father, he noticed the dogs were quiet and looked in on their kennel space. He found nine of the puppies missing and Brandy distressed, attempting to revive the single puppy left behind, which was dead.

“She was acting like she was panicked. She was whimpering, like she was crying, and looking around for her puppies,” he said.

Patterson said whoever took the puppies must have scouted out the property beforehand. “They knew exactly what building to go to because nothing else was disturbed. Just that building,” he said.

A sheriff’s deputy took a report and asked to be apprised of any leads in the theft.

Frequent foot traffic in the yard outside the building made distinguishing unidentified footprints in the snow impossible. And there were no vehicle tracks entering a driveway, leading Patterson to suspect the person or people responsible parked down the road and entered the property on foot.

The property has no security cameras, and the outbuilding was not locked. “We didn’t think it was necessary. We’re out in the sticks,” Patterson. “It never crossed my mind that we’d even have to worry about theft, let alone theft of a puppy. I felt violated, like somebody invaded my property.”

No one in the rural neighborhood reported seeing or hearing any suspicious activity the night of the theft. The German Shepard that fathered the puppies was inside the house on the property and unaware of the outside activity.

Patterson believes the tenth puppy was also meant to be stolen but was unknowingly dropped in the snow during the theft. He said Brandy probably found and retrieved her puppy from the yard after it succumbed to the cold weather conditions.

Following the puppies’ births, Patterson advertised them for sale on his Facebook page and on a website used to buy, sell, and trade AKC-registered German Shepards. The ad included only his telephone number, leaving Patterson to believe the thief or thieves are either acquainted with him or his father’s property. He wonders if maybe it was someone who previously visited the outbuilding to look at puppies for sale or someone he refused to make a sale to from a past litter.

“The ad was a public news feed, so anybody and everybody could have seen it,” he said.

Patterson is currently monitoring online sites to see if anyone is attempting to sell purebred German Shepard puppies not yet AKC-registered. He’s confident, though, that it’s already too late to recover them.

The litter was the last for Brandy, who will be scheduled for spaying. What concerns Patterson is the puppies’ future health. At just days old, they are weeks from readiness to sell and would have to be nursed.

“These puppies aren’t getting the antibodies from the mom, so they’re probably going to be more susceptible to diseases,” he said.

Remote security cameras will now be installed on the property and other security measures will be taken.

Patterson said he and his father plan to continue breeding purebreds but have always been particular to whom they sell the puppies.

“I have a screening process,” he said. “Taking care of a dog is like taking care of a kid for 12 years. I want to make sure the right people buy the puppy and they’re able to actually financially take care of the puppy.”

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.