It's bad enough when a dog goes missing, but what about when that dog is stolen?

Jean Ellick, president of the Animal Welfare Society in Miami, is concerned about the number of dogs that have gone missing in the local community.

“Every week over the past three months we have had people come in looking for missing dogs,” Ellick said. “Most often they are what would be called ‘designer dogs.'”

While Animal Control Officer Danny Trujillo agrees that some dogs might be stolen, he said that there's no proof.

“People do like these little dogs and, if they get away from their owners, others find them and keep them instead of reporting them to the authorities,” he said.

According to Ellick, designer dogs are in high fashion.

Designer dogs are dogs that are specifically bred to develop the different breeds' assets.

Many of the dogs, such as cock-a-poo, peke-a-poo and schnoodle, are bred with poodles because they shed less. Cock-a-poo is a poodle bred with a cocker spaniel, peke-a-poo is a poodle bred with a Pekinese and a schnoodle is a poodle bred with a schnauzer.

Registration papers, a vital selling point for a purebred dog, are not needed for designer dogs because their “breed” is still being developed.

The dogs are sold at the shelter from $25 to $45.

“But, they can be taken to Tulsa or Oklahoma City and sold from $200 to $500,” Ellick said.

Society volunteers try to warn those adopting the animals that they need to keep an eye on them.

“A man and his wife adopted two pugs,” she said. “He came in a week later and said his wife had let the dogs out to relieve themselves and they ran off.

“We found one, but never did find the other. Those dogs were raised together and I don't think they would have separated voluntarily.”

Very few animals are missing from the shelter itself.

The shelter is locked down as well as patrolled by the Miami Police Department.

“If it was only one or two dogs missing, I would think they just ran away,” Ellick said. “As plentiful and consistently as these dogs are missing, it seems there's thought behind it.”