Suspecting a series of related dog thefts in Natrona County, a group called Wyoming Missing Canines formed.

Members suspect dogs are being stolen and resold, possibly for dog fights or to new homes out of the area. With little solid information, the group is following its hunches and hoping to gain enough information and manpower to stop what members suspect are dognappings.

Val Kulhavy spearheaded the group at an Oct. 14 meeting at the Parkway Plaza. She believes her son’s yellow lab-Aussie mix was stolen from her rural property in June. Like several other missing dogs she’s since learned of, Daisy lived near a main roadway off I-25, Kulhavy said.

Kulhavy said posts on local Facebook pages report many missing purebred dogs, particularly yellow labs, pugs or mixes of such popular breeds. She’s also noticed a pattern of dogs reported missing from fenced backyards, especially near alleys, she said.

Shelter manager Angela Letz at the Casper Humane Society said there’s no known increase in missing dog reports, but there seem to be more unresolved cases — 82 of 94 since August — instead of most owners reporting they found their dogs.

“A lot of the reports are purebred animals, which is odd,” Letz added.

Casper Police Lt. Brad Wnuk said officers are aware of the group’s concerns and watch for suspicious activity. There have been just two related police reports since July 1: a missing husky and a dog in a family dispute.

However, group members counted at least six more missing dogs, including three pugs, posted on Facebook Oct. 7, Kulhavy said. Audra Nunes’ 3-year-old pug was among those. As with Kulhavey and others in the group missing dogs, there’s little to no evidence of what happened. She let her two dogs into the backyard at about 4 p.m. Thirty minutes later, she found the gate open, pushed inward, and the pug was nowhere to be seen, Nunes said.

Kulhavy said three accounts offer the major clues available so far:

• A blonde man driving a blue Toyota 4Runner, with a woman and dogs inside, tried to lure a witness’ yellow lab in his backyard but drove away when spotted, Kulhavy said. The witness wasn’t reachable for comment.

• Genny Trickett’s neighbors told her that her pug-springer spaniel mix followed a blonde teen with acne and white ear gauges who took the dog and ran off in August, Trickett said after the meeting.

• Tomi Smith said on Facebook and at the meeting that her boyfriend saw a blue, two-toned Chevy pickup with a topper driven by a young blond man who seemed to be pursuing a dog. The couple reunited a yellow lab near their house that day with its owner.

 Kulhavy encourages people to report suspected dognappings and suspicious incidents to police and reach out to the Wyoming Missing Canines.

The group has a website, www.wyomingmissing, and a Facebook page

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