Dog, Puppies Stolen From Crystal Lake Kennel (VIDEO)

10/04/2011 03:17 pm ET | Updated Dec 04, 2011

A Crystal Lake family whose dog was stolen last week along with her seven young puppies are begging anyone with information to come forward. They say the dog has special meaning, as their last connection to their son, who was close to the dog and died unexpectedly recently.

Lucy Lu, a West Highland Terrier whom the Graff family of Sheboygan, Wis. consider "a family member," was reportedly stolen Thursday along with her litter of seven puppies from A-Plus Kennel in Crystal Lake, NBC Chicago reports.

Kennel owner Carol Koehmstedt says she was responding to a phone call from a purported client when she left the house where 3-year-old Lucy and her puppies were being kept with the door unlocked, NBC reports. When she returned, all eight dogs were missing. Koehmstedt believes the thieves were directly targeting the litter, born Monday, because purebred Westie pups are valued between $850 and $2,500 each.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Koehmstedt told TribLocal Crystal Lake. “For strangers to know where the puppies were and how to get in is strange. Obviously they were people who only wanted Westies because there were other dogs that could have been taken. This is an extremely odd happenstance.”

Lucy had been in the kennel's care since Sept. 15 following an arrangement made with the kennel giving Koehmstedt ownership of the puppies, who were born Sept. 26, according to TribLocal. Koehmstedt says that at less than a week old and only four ounces apiece, the puppies are in serious danger if they are not cared for properly.

The Graff family purchased Lucy from the boarding kennel in January 2009, and they say their 17-year-old son Jake bonded immediately with the dog, ABC Chicago reports. When Jake died unexpectedly in May 2009, Lucy became a source of comfort, the family says.

“They were best buds,” his mother Deb Graff told NBC. “And after we lost our son, she was our saving grace. She is all we have left of him.”

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department has launched an investigation and is asking anyone with information about the theft to call the sheriff's office. They are offering a reward for the tip that brings Lucy home.

Flickr photo by sarniebill1.

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