Bones, a dogo argentino, was among 16 dogs housed at Northwest Ohio Underdog Rescue Inc., but he was the only dog taken, Kathy Sutter, who founded and operates the rescue operation from her West Toledo home, said Sunday.
The theft occurred while Ms. Sutter was attending the funeral and wake of her father, attorney Jude Sutter.
She said the loss of the dog, coupled with the death of her father, was heartbreaking.
“I was definitely overwhelmed with everything that was going on,” Ms. Sutter said.
Bones created a media sensation in New York in November, 2011, when his owner, Shaun Dyer, allegedly killed his roommate, David Shadha, by striking him in the head with a pipe.
Mr. Shadha’s body had bite marks.
The New York Post reported that Shadha managed to call 911 before he died and told the operator that his roommate had sicced his dog on him.
Authorities seized the dog. Its lengthy incarceration by the city sparked an outcry among animal-rights groups who advocated for its release, Ms. Sutter said.
Last January, after the Manhattan prosecutor’s office determined the dog was no longer needed in the case, Bones was released to the Lexus Project, a legal defense agency for dogs that face confinement or death.
Robin Mittasch, co-founder of the Lexus Project of Oceanside, N.Y., said Bones was given to Ms. Sutter because of her reputation for dealing with aggressive dogs. The plan called for Bones to be returned to the Lexus Project for possible adoption, Ms. Mittasch said.
Ms. Mittasch said she does not believe the theft was tied to the homicide.
“It’s definitely not related,” Ms. Mittasch said. The dog’s owner “willingly signed him over to us.”
New York authorities held onto Bones because “it was a witness to murder. It had blood all over him,” she said.
Authorities made a forensic impression of Bones’ teeth. The impression determined that the bite marks were not the result of the fight between the roommates, Ms. Mittasch said.
She described Bones as “just a giant, massive puppy. He’s as strong as any dog I’ve ever encountered. This is not a Yorkie.”
Because of Bones’ size and appearance, Ms. Mittasch fears the dog could be in danger if it should get loose.
“Unfortunately this is the kind of dog that police are frightened of and would shoot it,” Ms. Mittasch said.
The Lexus Project is offering what Ms. Mittasch called “a very large reward” for its return. She asked the thief to return the dog, either to the kennel or to Sylvania Vet, with “no questions asked.”
Newspaper reports of the slaying described Bones as a “pit bull,” but according to the dogo argentino Web site, it was bred from several breeds to develop certain traits.
The dogo argentino was developed in the 1920s by Antonio Nores Martinez to be a big game hunter capable of tracking and subduing large animals in his native Argentina.
The dog, also known as an Argentine mastiff, received traits and blood from boxers, bull terriers, dogue de Bordeaux, English bull dogs, great Danes, great Pyrenees, Irish wolfhounds, mastiffs, and pointers, according to the dogo argentino Web site.
Ms. Sutter said she called police to report the loss and alerted the Lucas County dog warden.
Dog Warden Julie Lyle could not be reached for comment.
Contact Jim Sielicki at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6050.