GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Angry pet owners in George County are speaking out and demanding answers: Why are their dogs disappearing or showing up dead?
Some of those pet owners claim their pit bulls were actually stolen from private property, and they want the sheriff's department to do more to protect animals in the county.
One woman shared a disturbing story of the day she found her missing dog. We must warn you, the pictures are quite graphic.
"It's just heartbreaking and I just pray nobody else walks up and finds theirs like I did. It's bad. It's gruesome," said Tammy Miller.
Miller showed WLOX some gruesome pictures of her dog Buddy, who looked bloodied and beaten. Miller said the two-year-old pit bull went missing December 6th.
"Buddy was taken off of his chain off of my private property," said Miller.
She remembered Buddy as a playful canine.
"He loved to chew on things and run. He loved the kisses and the hugs and he was fun," she said.
Buddy's body was found two days later, dumped on the side of a road in Agricola. Buddy was still wearing the red Christmas sweater he had on when he disappeared.
"He had bite marks, broke teeth. He was just throwed out. I was angry, angry. Who kills innocent animals?" Miller asked as tears filled her eyes.
Miller said in recent weeks, four other pit bulls have been found dead, mainly in the Central Community. She and other dog owners created a Facebook page called "George County Missing and Found Animals".
"We buried him and then I became vigilant and I want everybody to be aware in this county. I mean, dogs are leaving this county too fast. They've been taken or stolen," said Miller.
They say so far, eleven dogs have been reported missing, most of them pit bulls or pit bull mixes. They believe the dogs are being used for fighting.
"They're being fought. I don't know if they're being fought here or being fought out of state, but it must be stopped. It's unacceptable," said pet owner Michele Hanson.
James Everett lost his pit bull Gus early Monday morning.
"The chain was piled up, like someone unhooked him, and there was a piece of meat laying there, like he was lured away," said Everett. "I was mad. I was beyond mad."
A volunteer with the Lucedale Animal Shelter said a female pit bull being held at the facility is also missing.
"She was the only one that was missing. It was the only way she would have left that shelter, is if somebody actually physically took her out, and it was not the shelter manager," said Barbara Jenkins.
When asked about the investigation into the missing animals, the spokeswoman for the sheriff's department told WLOX News the sheriff was not available for an interview. She also said over the last six months, there has been only one report of a missing pit bull.
When they heard that, several pet owners walked into the sheriff's department Monday to request copies of their "stolen dog" reports.
"We walked back out with three reports as of right now," said Hanson.
The pet owners say they will do what they can to protect other dogs from the same fate.
"I couldn't save mine, but I hope I can save somebody else's. That's all I want, somebody else's family member to be saved," said Miller.
The pet owners say they would like to meet personally with the sheriff and county supervisors, and if necessary, contact the attorney general's office and the FBI regarding their concerns of dog fighting. They also plan to seek support from animal rights advocates.