Dozens of dogs reported stolen in Tate County

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TATE COUNTY, Miss. -- Dozens of dogs are missing in Tate County, and the sheriff's office doesn't think it's a coincidence.

Deputies said a dog snatcher is on the loose.

It's not just happening in Tate County, either. We've received reports it happened in surrounding counties and in Tennessee.

"I can't even explain it. It's really, really, really sad. I cried for the first full week he was missing. He is my child," Kodi Estep said.

Estep let her Rottweiler, Rocky, out to play in her Tate County yard last month. A half-hour later, something went terribly wrong.

"Rocky never came back," Estep said.

John Brassfield has a similar story.

"Everyone around here knew my dog. It was the neighborhood dog. He would go to the kid's birthday party next door," he said.

"I let him out like I did any other Saturday morning," Brassfield added.

Brassfield said he drove up and down Palestine Road last fall. He talked to neighbors and event went to the Humane Society, but his dog never turned up.

"At that point, we knew most likely he had been taken because he was a pit and a young pit," Brassfield said.

"They are being sold. Some are being bred. Some are possibly being used as bait in dog fighting," Tate County Detective Stephanie Huddleston said.

Tate County Sheriff's Office is investigating after receiving tips on Facebook that dozens of purebred dogs went missing, several of which were reported this weekend.

One owner said her teacup Chihuahua was stolen from her backyard in the afternoon last week.

Another owner tells us her Yorkie was taken in DeSoto County last month from Starlanding Road. She's offering a $1,000 for her dog's safe return, no questions asked.

Investigators said the dog snatchers are bold. They go into yards, throw the pups over fences, and even grab them on the streets.

"They could have thrown him in, could have been beaten on, could have been mistreated, could be dead already," Brassfield said.

Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward to help catch the dog snatcher.

"Whoever did this, they should really be ashamed of themselves. The dogs may not mean anything to them, but they mean everything to us," Estep said.

If you've had a dog stolen, investigators are asking you to file a police report.

Whoever is taking the dogs will face felony charges.

If you have any information that can help deputies, call Crime Stoppers at 662-301-1111.

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