A reward for information leading to the safe return of six purebred Presa Canario puppies has amassed more than $10,000 in just two days.
Breeder Jen Chandler is worried about the dogs’ health and safety, fearing that the four-week-old pups that are not yet weaned will not get the nutrition and care they require.
“Puppies that young shouldn’t leave the property, they’re very vulnerable,” she said. “They can dehydrate ... just like an infant.”
Chandler initially offered $5,000 as a reward, but then others pledged amounts ranging from $100 to $2,500 for a total of $10,500 by Thursday afternoon. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department confirmed they were investigating the missing puppies.
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Cabeza Grande Kennel had planned to sell each puppy for $3,000, and had taken deposits on four of the dogs. Chandler said she started breeding Presa Canarios about 20 years ago to help preserve the breed, and that she liked their temperament.
The Presa Canario is known for its “protectiveness, territoriality, super loving and loyal to families but, like I said, they can be protective. Usually Americans use them for guarding the house ... functional companion guardians,” she said.
She is careful to screen potential owners for experienced owners who can train the dogs.
“They’re not a nasty aggressive animal at all, they just need structure and boundaries,” she said.
Chandler is concerned that a person who would steal puppies would not use care in choosing a new home for the dog.
“I don’t care” if the size of the reward cuts into her profit, she said. She just wants the puppies back, and for them to be healthy.
The puppies were being kept separate from their mother and from the other adult dogs when they were taken, she said. The mother, Konga, was being “too clinging” with them, her first litter, and Chandler would bring her to the puppies to feed them.
“She’s definitely looking around for them,” she said.
The puppies should grow into fairly large dogs, she said, if they are properly cared for and trained. Males can get up to 150 pounds, and females up to 120. Both the dame and sire of the litter are exceptions, she said.
Konga is 130 pounds, big for a female, and sire Yago small for a male at 115 pounds.
“He attacked a riding lawnmower” as a youngster and lost a leg, Chandler said, but the sire of three litters “makes regular-sized puppies.”
Chandler thinks someone broke into the room where she and her husband keep puppies, about 40 feet from her bedroom. There is a litter of older puppies in the same room that were not harmed. She thinks the suspect is “someone who knew my layout.”
Madison County sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Mike Dixon said it’s not unheard of for a single pup or dog to be taken, but he didn’t recall any whole litter being stolen. He said it’s far more common for couples breaking up to have disputes over animal custody.
“We’re following up with any leads; and encourage people to call the Sheriff’s Department,” Dixon said.