Increased security at Columbia shelter after several break-ins - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Increased security at shelter after several break-ins

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -  After 11 dogs were stolen from the Columbia Animal Shelter in two separate break-ins, police say they are taking steps to increase security measures at the facility on Shop Road.

While the Columbia Police Department will not detail what those measures are, they say they are working with the shelter to try and prevent a third theft from happening.

"We are worried about [the animals], we want them to be treated humanely," said Jennifer Timmons, a spokeswoman with the Columbia Police Department. "We want someone to take care of them and when somebody steals animals it certainly begs the question, ‘Why? What is the purpose? What are they going to do with these animals?', and that is, of course, great concern to the Columbia Police Department."

The most recent crime was reported this past Monday morning, after employees arrived at work to discover the shelter had been burglarized and eight pit bulls were removed from their cages. Investigators say one of those dogs is a pregnant female.

Police say they do not want to speculate as to why the animals would have been taken, but they say because of the way the pit bull breeds have been used in the past, there is cause for concern.

"Traditionally in the past, I know it's been in the media, that these animals, pit bulls in general are used for breeding purposes, they're also used in dog fighting rings in South Carolina," said Timmons.

"I know that's been headline news in the state over the past couple of years, so we are aware of that,"said Timmons. "We hope that's not going to be the case in this situation, we certainly want these animals to be safe."

The incident report from the first crime on the evening of January 29th and the morning of January 30th revealed that employees found three pit bulls loose in a barnyard area where they would not be typically.

The report then said employees discovered eight cages had been broken into.

Earlier that week, the report said a shelter employee removed a person from the property who was performing court-ordered community service at the shelter because they were found taking cell phone pictures of the pit bulls.

The initial incident report also said that sometime during that week a call was made to report several suspicious people outside the fences of the facility around closing time.

If you have any information on either of the crimes you're asked to call Crimestoppers at 1-888 CRIME-SC. Tipsters could earn up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest of a suspect in the case.

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