RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh police are investigating a break-in at the Wake County animal shelter and theft of four pit bulls.
Shelter employees called police at 5:41 p.m. Sunday after discovering the female dogs – two 8-week-olds and two 1-year-olds – missing.
Authorities believe the thieves used a handgun to shoot out the front door and shatter the glass of the Wake County Animal Care, Control & Adoption Center at 820 Beacon Lake Road.
Investigators found bullet holes in a wall beneath the reception desk near the door.
The facility was closed at the time of the break-in, but employees were in the building. No one was injured and no one heard the intruder or intruders.
"In this situation, shots were fired into an occupied building," Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue said. "The consequences could have been a whole lot worse than they were."
Animal shelter staff said they suspect the thieves visited the facility when it was open and might have scoped out what they looking for.
Dogs have been stolen from the shelter before during operating hours, but there had never been a break-in.
"Obviously, the benefits that were reaped were the four dogs, but beyond that, it's impossible to say why it might have happened," Sughrue said. "It's a very unusual crime."
Shelter workers suspect the thieves may have scoped out the facility while it was open and knew exactly what they were looking for.
Some speculate the dogs might have been taken to participate in dog fighting; others say the thieves might sell the dogs. The price to adopt a dog from the shelter is $120.