There's been an epidemic of pet thieves in my town, as of late.
They operate at night, breaking into people's backyards and accosting distracted pet owners on the street. No one knows for sure why they want our pets so badly.
But, whatever reason it is, they’re not getting their hands on mine.
My night started out like any other. After eating dinner and watching some TV, I grabbed Bailey’s leash to take him for a walk.
The scamp raced into the room and sat bolt upright, panting excitedly. Bailey loves walks. Living in a secluded town in rural Utah, I'd always felt safe walking around after dark.
Neighbours waved hello or stopped to pet Bailey, but otherwise went peacefully about their business. Trouble only ever occurred when out-of-towners showed up.
They were the ones stealing our pets- I was sure of it.
The night continued. I ran into my neighbour, Samantha, and we stopped to discuss the recent thefts while Bailey and Fifi sniffed around.
Samantha agreed that it was probably transients behind the abductions, although she didn't seem too worried by them.
Bailey and I were only a block away from home when I finally spotted one: the silhouette of a pet thief, crouched behind a veil of bushes.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him clicking away intently. He was taking photos of Bailey.
That was it. Enough was enough.
I tied Bailey to a lamppost, snuck around the corner, and watched. The thief was cautious, as if he expected a trap, but soon threw caution to the wind and darted forwards anyway.
Seemingly recognising the man, Bailey whined incessantly. Strangely, the thief echoed this emotion, tears streaming down his face as he grappled with Bailey's leash.
Before he could make any more headway, I stepped out and revealed myself. The thief threw his head up at me, startled. His fearful expression quickly turned to rage.
"What the fuck have you sick people done to my brother?!" he screamed, attempting to shield the whimpering, naked man tied to the pole. I stared back at him, blankly. Typical outsider.
The local sheriff caught up to the thief soon enough. Thankfully for the town, his petnapping days are over. We'll find use for him yet, just like Bailey and the others.
Pet thieves always make the best pets.