WEST PARIS — Another pit bull-type dog is missing as an investigation into the disappearance of a number of dogs in Oxford County continues.
Louisa Westleigh, owner of the Secret Garden flower and gift shop, said her dog Scarlett went missing Monday while she was out.
Westleigh said that because pit bull-type dogs and other large breeds have been disappearing in recent months, she has had friends drive by during the day to check on Scarlett and her bull mastiff, which were chained up in her yard. Scarlett is an American bulldog.
“Yesterday was just a day where nobody had a chance to go by,” Westleigh said. When she returned home, she said, both dogs were missing. She said the found the mastiff in the house. The dog had entered through the downstairs door and had somehow injured his leg. “We don't know how,” Westleigh said.
About 20 dogs have been reported missing in the area of West Paris, Woodstock, Hebron and Sumner in recent months. Most have been pit bull-type dogs, although labs and a Doberman have been reported missing. In a few cases, someone reported seeing people driving a truck or a minivan stopping and taking dogs from yards.
One dog taken from West Paris last month was found dead a week later in Sumner wrapped in a tarp.
Animal Control Officer Ozzie Hart has said he suspects dog fighting in the area, and that the stolen dogs are being used as “bait dogs,” used to train fighting dogs.
The Oxford County Sheriff's Office has been investigating the case since last week. Sheriff Wayne Gallant said the investigator, Detective Thomas Harriman, has been out sick this week but is expected to return to work Wednesday.
“I'm hoping she's just scared and lost,” Westleigh said. “I'm hoping, with all this stuff going on, that's not what it is.”