A Sharpsburg man is offering a reward for the return of his dog, one of three hounds stolen from the Kentucky Coon Hunt in Grant County this weekend.
Michael Snedegar said he will pay $500 for the return of Phoenix, his 21-month-old Walker coonhound or for any information leading to her return.
Snedegar said about 100 hunters brought their dogs to a sportsmen's club in Curtis Gates Lloyd Wildlife Preserve in Crittenden. The hunters went inside about 9 p.m. Friday to divide into groups known as casts, Snedegar said.
"If there's a hundred total dogs in the hunt, they split them up into four-dog casts," Snedegar said.
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While the casts were being drawn, which took about 15 minutes, hunters left their dogs in kennels or tied up outside, he said.
"As soon as everyone gets out, everybody goes back outside and gets in their truck and goes hunting," he said. "Well, when we went back outside, our dogs were gone."
Phoenix, as well as an English coonhound and a Redbone coonhound, had been taken. The thief also pilfered some hunting equipment.
Snedegar has had Phoenix for about a year. He trained her almost daily for American Kennel Club hunting competitions and shows, he said, and the energetic, friendly dog had quickly become family.
"There wasn't a day that went by that we didn't get her out and play with her," he said. "We'd fix something to eat and we'd make enough to give her."
Phoenix is a pedigreed coonhound and an AKC show champion. Snedegar estimated she was worth at least $5,000. Purebred coonhounds, he said, could be worth $5,000 to $10,000.
"They're very well-bred dogs. They're not just any old dogs that you raise pups out of," he said.
Snedegar said the owner of Rambo, the English coonhound, also is offering a $500 reward. He said he was not sure about a reward for the Redbone.
The coon hunt is held at the Lloyd Wildlife Preserve each year. The goal of the competition is to track raccoons and trap them in trees. Hunters do not kill the animals; rather, the dogs are graded on their performances.
"One judge goes out with each cast," Snedegar said.
Josh Lillpop, wildlife management foreman at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said he had never heard of dogs being stolen at the event.
"To my knowledge, in the past, they have not had a problem with something like that," Lillpop said.
State Trooper Scott Allen is investigating the theft. Snedegar asked that anyone with information about Phoenix call police or call Snedegar directly at (606) 336-0623.