Karma has been missing since April 1.
CORNWALL, Ontario - Dog owners in South Glengarry are holding leashes a lot tighter these days after what some claim is a rash of canine thefts.
Anna-Lisa Kanner is the latest victim in what some are suggesting is an alarming increase in the number of missing dogs in the township east of Cornwall.
Her little boxer mix Karma, who is just eight months old, went missing from her South Service Road property on April 1.
In an interview she suggested it was no April Fool's prank but instead a concerted effort to steal her dog.
"It's like losing a child. This is hell," she said. "They're family members."
And Kanner isn't alone.
Kevin Casselman, an animal control officer for South Glengarry with 25 years experience in the business, said in the last 18 months he has observed a spike in the number of people reporting their dogs missing.
"I've noticed it along the (Quebec) border right up to about Highway 34," he said, adding his theory is the dogs are being taken by thieves from Quebec and re-sold in that province.
Police are quick to point out that there is no active investigation into the complaints.
"Is there a rash? No," said OPP Const. Pete Robertson. "There's all kinds of examples for dog not coming home."
Especially in rural areas, where Robertson said dogs can be killed in a number of ways including being struck by a vehicle, attacked by coyotes, or falling through the ice on nearby rivers and streams where things are starting to thaw out.
He also suggested dogs can simply run away.
"This pops up once in a while," Robertson said of the missing dogs, suggesting he's heard of just one case of a missing dog in the last three months.
But that's not the case, say others.
Casselman suggested he's heard of between 30 and 40 missing dogs in the last year or so.
The problem even stretches into other communities.
Sandy Leduc, a veterinarian technician in Casselman, said she's noticed a slight uptick in the number of people communicating with her about missing or stolen dogs.
One poor woman, she said, has had both her dogs taken in just under a month.
Leduc also agrees with the theory that thieves from Quebec may be behind the problem.
Just eight months ago about 90 dogs were rescued from a large-scale puppy mill in the Montreal area.
The Montreal SPCA and the Humane Society International/Canada seized the dogs, which were mostly Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas which were found in squalid conditions.
Though the laws have improved, said Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society International, enforcement remains a problem.
“Quebec remains the puppy mill capital of Canada and it will remain that way until we have stronger laws and better enforcements. The laws have been improved but there’s still a distance to go,” Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society International told CTV News last September.
Kanner said she's searched for days for Karma, with no luck.
"The police have been wonderful," she said. "But they probably don't have the resources for something like this.
"People need to be informed that this is going on."
Kanner can be reached at 613-347-1833 if you have any information about Karma.