BY LILY MIHALIK

Michael Hoffman, who works in Persian rugs, knows what he would do if someone tried to take his dog.

“I’ll shoot ‘em dead,” said Hoffman who visits the park regularly with his 90 pound basset hound Flash.

Paddington Bear is a regular at Dolores, but, now more than ever, his owner Catherine Edwards, keeps a watchful eye.

Catherine Edwards, a 38 year-old special education teacher, and owner of Yorki-Poo Paddington Bear, has a different strategy.  “I try to never take my eyes off of him, small dogs are too easy to pick up,” she said.

As Edwards, Hoffman and other Mission District dog owners in Dolores Park reacted to the news of two missing dogs, and Mission police officer Steve Bucy warned that his best advice was to keep dogs on a leash.

“It’s a crime of opportunity,” said Bucy. “Some of these dogs have a high resale value, or they can be trained to fight.”

“You can sell anything on Craigslist,” he added. Craigslist does not permit the selling of  “Household pets of any kind,” but does allow “re-homing with a small adoption fee,” according to Craigslist.com.

Meanwhile, the owners of the two missing dogs, said they had picked up no clues on the whereabouts of their missing canines.

Bill mcLeod said his family dog, Lucy disappeared on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., near the tennis courts at Dolores Park.

Ava mcLeod, his daughter, was with Lucy when she vanished. “I was reading in the lower part of the park for an hour or so, and when I looked up, she was gone,” she said.

Lucy has been missing since 2:30 p.m. on September 1.

Lucy, an 8 year-old border terrier with a limp, has been visiting the park routinely for the last several years, off leash and fancy-free. “She is well trained,” said mcLeod, “she knows her boundaries.”

His daughter said they had been putting up close to 100 posters a day, but within an hour, someone has taken them down.

“It cost a lot of money, and we’re doing it legally,” she said, referring to city regulations that allow, among many specifications, for the posting of signs that are clearly dated, and no higher than 12 feet off the ground.

Volunteers helping in the search are now being advised to carry posting regulations with them, should they run into those removing the signs.

At first Bill mcLeod believed a homeless person had stolen his pup. “They use them for space heaters or to get sympathy,” he said.

After a conversation with San Francisco Animal Control, however, his daughter,  is unsure who stole her dog. “They said it’s unlikely that Lucy was stolen by a homeless person, that mostly happens in Golden Gate Park where junkies snatch them for ransom,” she said.

Animal Control, she said, told her that dogs are sometimes lifted just for being off leash, to teach the owner a lesson. “The Shelter said it happens a lot in the Castro,” she added. Bill mcLeod is still unsure who stole his missing pet, and why.

San Francisco Animal Care and Control declined to comment.

It will be a week since Ronnie Salmeron, a bar manager at 1015 Folsom, let his dogs 3-year old Chirpa and his puppy out to play after his shift.  Only the puppy returned.

“He had to have been stolen, it happened way to fast,” said Salmeron. “Someone came up to my friend when we were looking, and said they saw someone running away with something in his arms.”

Salmeron has posted more than 600 posters and launched a Facebook offensive, but so far there is no word on the missing dog.

Chirpa has been missing since August 31st at 2:30 a.m.

When asked why someone would steal his dog, he said, “A pure-bred Yorkie, like him, can cost over $2000, and for all I know my dog could be in a fight right now.”

In Dolores Park, Elliott Kiger, sat close to his dog Max, a terrier mix. “Before the signs I would have never thought someone would steal my dog,” he said, adding, “I definitely have been keeping a closer eye on him.”

After learning about the two disappearances, Wine Bar owner Jessica Gaston joked, “it’s a Mission love story, maybe they ran off together.”

Others said the missing dogs may just be lost.

Lindsay Kefauver, co-founder of Dolores Park Dogs and an off-leash advocate, said that owners should not bring their dogs to the park on crowded days. “Sometimes they can’t find their owners, and head for home,” she said.

Another member of the group, Robert Brust, added, “people can be terribly loose about it, letting their dogs run all over.”

Chris Fuqua, co-owner of the Wine Bar, said he once had a confused dog follow him home from Dolores Park. Only later, after a friend scoured the park for its owner, were the two reunited.

David Woebel, a 45 year-old marketing director who visits Dolores on the weekend with his Boxer-Pitbull mix, Breezy, said he will continue to keep his dog off leash.

“Unfortunately, the way this economy is: it’s any way you can make a buck,” he said as he watched Breezy roll in the grass from a distance. “And if you value something you’d better keep a close eye on it.”

If you have seen Chirpa, please contact Ronnie Salmeron at 415.568.8838

If you have seen Lucy, please call Bill mcLeod at 415. 550.7576

Lily Mihalik

Lily will always choose tacos over a burrito, and black beans over pinto. She likes eating spicy food until her nose runs, and riding her bike up steep inclines. She wants' to learn to scuba dive, but...

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