COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Deputy Scott Puckett has found a friend in a pit bull named Sonny.
Puckett adopted the pup after he was rescued from a dog fighting ring last September.
Richland County Sheriff's Department seized 24 dogs from that ring, vowing to rehabilitate them and find them loving homes.
Authorities believe Sonny spent his days before the rescue chained to a tree in the woods.
"I don't believe Sonny was fought, he's just too timid and he doesn't have any marks, his ears aren't cropped and his tails not docked. So I believe he was either a breeder or he was going to be used as a punching bag to make the other dogs more aggressive," said Puckett.
The breed's reputation often lands it in situations of crime and abuse, but pit bulls are more than capable of being loving pets.
"We don't have an animal problem. We have a people problem," said Wayne Brennessel, CEO of Columbia's Humane Society.
In the last 2 weeks, 11 pit bulls have been stolen from the Columbia Animal Shelter, which is located next to the Humane Society.
Brennessel points out that although there is no way to know why someone stole the dogs from the shelter, he does not think they had good intentions.
"If somebody actually wanted to adopt a pit bull, they are certainly available for adoption to have as pets, but when you're coming in taking numbers four or five or however many at a time, your motives are suspect," said Brennessel.
The Richland County Sheriff's Department has been successful in finding homes for Sonny and 22 other pit bulls from the September rescue, but one dog still remains without a home.
Chief Randy Scott with the Columbia Police Department encourages citizens with information about the most recent pit bull thefts to submit their anonymous tip to Crimestoppers in any of the following ways:
CALL toll-free: 888-CRIME-SC.
TEXT to CRIMES (274637), and mark the beginning of the message with "TIPSC,â?? followed by the tip information.
Log onto the Crimestoppers Website: Click on the red "Submit a tip" tab
Tipsters could earn a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.