An Evansville family is making a desperate plea to find the person who stole the family pet from their back yard.
Reload is an 11-year-old black lab, owned by the Gaupner's. A neighbor tells 14 News that he saw a man in a light blue, beat-up pickup truck come to take Reload.
On Friday, Reload has a special team tracking her trail.
"It's just gut wrenching, I mean that dog spends a lot of time with me; We hunt together and a lot of time it's just her and I when we're out hunting and she's a friend of mine as silly as that may sound," says John Gaupner.
John tells us when he came home on Thursday afternoon to feed Reload, he didn't hear her get up from the dog house.
"I thought the worst of course, her being 11 years old and I go and she's not there and I'm thinking the worst, especially with this heat," says John. "I bend down and look in the dog house and she's not there."
But John says he just found out about a recent trend called "pet flipping."
Thieves steal animals and resell them for a quick profit. A pure breed like Reload is more valuable in the eyes of a thief.
"I hope not, if it is, I just hope somebody, whoever did it sees this, sees the pet they took away from my little girl, and I just hope they take care of her, she's my buddy," says John.
A few years ago, Reload had a litter of puppies, and one of those pups went to Linda Dillbeck, President of the Ohio Valley Search and Rescue Team.
"I was shocked, saddened, disgusted. We need to bring her home," says Linda.
The team is using a social media campaign to spread the word.
"There's some kind of person out here that's stealing dogs," says Linda. "For what reason? Whether it's monetary gain, or something worse, it just needs to be stopped."
Neighbors, like Betty Hawkins, say they're keeping their four-legged family members a little closer.
"If something like this happened, I probably won't let him out without me being out too," says Betty.
John is pleading to whoever took his dog, "bring her back, she's out dog, she's our little girls dog, bring her home, please."
Officials say this pet flipping scam has been relevant in the St. Louis and Evansville areas, and it is unclear if that's what happened to Reload.
They urge residents to never leave animals unattended.
If you have any information on Reload's disappearance, John is asking you to email him firstname.lastname@example.org
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