I received a call early Monday morning from someone that lives out near the Three Forks area and they told me that in the last month or so, over 100 dogs have gone missing around Three Forks, Ennis, Harrison, and the Whitehall area.

When I asked the person some more questions, they told me that the "rumor" going around those towns is that the dogs are being stolen to be used to train in dogfighting.

There are "unofficial reports" about people trying driving through those towns during the day and then returning at night to try and take the dogs, according to the caller.  The person had also mentioned that they had heard stories of people trying to get into fences in the middle of the night.

Of course, dogfighting is illegal here in Montana and is a state and a federal felony. Not to mention is an incredibly cruel thing to put an animal through. So is there any truth to the rumor?  Are dogs being stolen in those areas?  If so, are they being used to train in illegal dog fighting rings?

White retriever in cage

I mean, let's be honest, we live in a world where it's very easy for rumors to start and when you throw in social media and its incredible reach, they can spread like wildfires. I wanted to see what the authorities had to say, so I decided to reach out to law enforcement and asked them those questions.

I spoke with Deputy Sheriff Tim Clark of the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department about the rumor and he told me and I quote:

"We've had no reported animal theft in Three Forks in the last year." 

The Deputy Sheriff hadn't heard anything about dogfighting in the area either. So nothing in Gallatin Country that's been reported, but what about the other counties in the area?

I reached out to the folks at the Madison County Sherriff's Office and asked them if they've had any reports of stolen dogs or other rumors and Christine Keltner with Records Management said that there haven't been any reports of stolen dogs in Madison County in the last month, however, there was a report of a missing dog back on March 30th.

Keltner also stated the following:

"We recieved two reports from different individuals about a man with a dog catching pole walking into people's yards.  We were told that there was video of this, however, at this time the Madison County Sheriff's Department has not seen that video"

Our thanks to both the Gallatin County and Madison County Sheriff's Offices for taking the time out of their busy schedules and talking with us about this.  So, it appears that the rumors are just that, rumors. Which, in all honesty, is a good thing.  I would hate to think that there is some sort of dog theft ring and that those involved are partaking in animal cruelty.

Having said that, according to caninejournal.com, dog thefts have been on the rise for a few years now, and certain breeds are more valuable for breeding.  While it doesn't look like we have a dog thief in our area, it's always a good idea to keep an eye out when it comes to our four-legged friends.

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