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Burglar steals 500 pounds of pet food from Animal Rescue League

By Eli Okun
Union Leader Correspondent

March 20. 2016 9:02PM

Pet food donations poured in Sunday after a burglary left the cupboard bare at the New Hampshire Animal Rescue League in Bedford. (COURTESY)

BEDFORD — After learning a burglar snatched more than 500 pounds of dog and cat food from the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire early Sunday morning, the public responded with a flood of donations.

“Many donations have been brought in and the place is packed with food for all the cats and dogs,” Tammy Lord commented on the nonprofit’s Facebook page Sunday afternoon. “Wonderful group of generous people.”

By 4 p.m., the shelter had received four times the amount of food that was stolen, according to shelter workers.

Security camera footage shows a lone young man tearing open the chicken wire of the food pantry at the front of the building around 1:35 a.m. In 15 to 20 minutes, he took about 65 bags of dry food and boxes of dog treats.

The fuzzy image shows a man in a blue hoodie and blue jeans; his face is never clear in the video.

The man also broke the padlock on a shed across the parking lot that stored lawn equipment and other tools, though nothing appeared to be missing there, shelter President and CEO Monica Zulauf said.

The thief left in a dark-colored sedan. The value of the stolen food is estimated at $705.

“I think it really has hit the staff volunteers and board pretty hard that someone would do this,” Zulauf said. “We do take it personally.”

Maureen Prendergast, director of outreach and investigations, said the staff has wondered if the burglar’s intention is to sell the pet food.

The league’s food pantry operates via a two-way donation system: Community donations of pet food come into the league, which in turn provides struggling owners the resources to feed their dogs, cats and rabbits.

Only one small bag of kitten food was left in the pantry. On Sunday morning, the wooden shelves were bare. The pantry’s canned food is stored inside when it’s cold, and was thus unaffected, as were bags of rabbit food that happened to be inside for the night.

Zulauf said the league will consider improving its security — better lighting or more cameras.

“The world’s changing,” Zulauf said, “and I think we need to have that conversation.”

The pantry currently serves about 20 to 30 families — some of whom need it temporarily, and some of whom get assistance in the longer term. Prendergast said it’s one of the ways the nonprofit works to prevent animal cruelty and neglect.

“These are animals that if this program wasn’t here, they would be being surrendered to shelters or eating food they shouldn’t be eating,” Zulauf said.

“Or starving,” Prendergast added.

Prendergast said she’s hopeful that the community can assist in finding the pet food thief.

“What would be really great is if someone just pulled up next to a car or saw a car in a parking lot that is packed with pet food and thought, ‘That’s unusual,’” she said.

Anyone who wishes to donate dog or cat food to the league can drop it off at their back door at 545 Route 101, Bedford, during business hours, seven days a week.

And anyone with information about the crime can contact Bedford police at 472-5113.

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