WEST PARIS, Maine — Police have arrested a local man in the theft of a missing dog.

Nicholas P. Libby, 24, was found in possession of Scarlett, an American bulldog who was reported stolen Monday, the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Harriman said he didn’t know whether Libby was connected to any of the thefts around the region in recent months. He said the only other dog in the residence was Libby’s.

“There’s no big explosion here of information,” Detective Thomas Harriman said.

Scarlett’s owner, Louisa Westleigh, said she was happy to have her dog home.

Westleigh said that when she got Scarlett back, her dew claws had been removed, she had a cut on her chin and it appeared someone had tried to breed her. Scarlett is going to the vet Thursday morning, Westleigh said.

Westleigh said the Sheriff’s Office called her Wednesday with news that they may have found her dog. About 2 p.m., they had returned Scarlett to her house.

Scarlett was the latest of about 20 dogs, mostly pit bulls and other large, muscular breeds, that have been reported missing from western Maine in recent months. Several were reported stolen, including instances in which dogs were seen picked up from yards by people in passing trucks or vans.

Animal Control Officer Ozzie Hart has said he believes a dogfighting ring might be responsible for the missing or stolen dogs in Woodstock, Sumner, West Paris and Hartford.

A Facebook group called “Stop the stealing of local dogs,” which addresses the missing dogs in western Maine, was formed Tuesday and had more than 1,200 members by Wednesday evening.

According to a release from the Sheriff’s Office, investigators didn’t know whether the incident was connected to other recent dog thefts.

Harriman said Libby was cooperative when deputies came to his door. He told them he had the dog.

Libby was charged with theft and violation of conditions of release. He was charged last year with assault on his 11-week-old daughter. He pleaded guilty and was given a deferred disposition, which means the case was filed and would have been dismissed if Libby had stayed out of trouble with the law for a set length of time.

According to a report by Lt. Michael Dailey of the Paris Police Department, the infant’s grandmother picked her up and saw bruising near her eye and bloody mucus in her nose.

Libby had called the woman and asked her to pick up the infant because he was getting frustrated with her crying. Libby told police he had anger management problems and initially denied hitting his daughter, saying she may have fallen on a toy.

He is expected to be arraigned Friday in South Paris District Court.

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