Dognappers snatch very special coon hound

By T.J. WILHAM, Muncie Star Press

August 26, 2004

On the right is David Tinsman, owner Tinsman's Tall Tree Dewzer, a tree walker coon hound that was stolen from his Loasantville home.

LOSANTVILLE - An award-winning coon dog worth about $10,000 has been stolen from its owner, and police believe the thieves knew exactly what they were taking.

The dog, Tinsman's Tall Tree Dewzer, was chained up in his backyard last weekend when someone snuck in, passed by two other pedigreed coon dogs and took him.

Police said the crime was committed while owners David and Becky Tinsman, 12037 W. Randolph County Road 800-S, were inside their rural Losantville home.

"When they called us, they were very upset," said Randolph County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Hensley. "It was like they lost one of their kids."

In the past four years Dewzer, a 4-year-old treeing walker coon hound, has won several prestigious awards for its hunting ability including Indiana's Governor's Cup, a yearly competition in which dogs are tested for how well they can hunt raccoons at night.

The dog has also been named a Grand Night Champion by the United Kennel Club, a mostly amateur organization.

Tinsman's home is decorated with Dewzer's accomplishments. He has two waist-high trophies in the living room, and walls are covered with plaques.

So far, the dog has won little money since it competed on the amateur circuit, however, David Tinsman said that he was going to start competing with the dog professionally next month with the Professional Kennel Club.

That club sponsors about 8,000 competitions a year and will award up to $30,000 for its national champion.

"It's a shame someone would stoop this low," David Tinsman said. "He was like a member of my family."

Stealing award-wining dogs is not a new crime. In Losantville there have been two other pedigreed dogs taken within the last year. Police said none of the dogs was worth as much as Dewzer, and they suspect all three crimes are related.

In May, authorities in Putnam County arrested a Clinton Falls man they believe stole three pedigreed prize dogs worth about $32,000.

Steve Fielder, vice president of the Professional Kennel Club, said the most likely motive for stealing one of these dogs would be a hunter wanting a good hunting dog but not willing to pay the price.

Using the stolen dog in a competition would be tough because chances are someone would recognize the dog, Fielder said.

Fielder's organization has helped find stolen dogs before by posting bulletins on its Web site. On Wednesday, Fielder was working on a bulletin for Dewzer.

"If someone would attempt to take that dog out in public, someone would recognize it," Fielder said. "It's more likely that the thieves would stay underground, take it out hunting and raise some puppies."

Since the Tinsmans were planning on breeding Dewzer, the dog's DNA is on file with the Professional Kennel Club. However, the dog did not have a computerized tracking chip or a tattoo.

"I never really thought that someone would steal something like that," Tinsman said. "What bothers me the most is that chances are this is someone I know or someone who has heard about him through the competitions."

Police ask anyone who has seen Dewzer to call 765-584-1721.

Contact news reporter T.J. Wilham at 213-5832.