A Family's Tragedy: Puppy and Christmas Presents Stolen on Christmas Eve

12/29/2009 at 07:45 AM EST

A Family's Tragedy: Puppy and Christmas Presents Stolen on Christmas Eve
When Keith Alioto returned to his Baltimore home last Wednesday night, he found it had been ransacked and burglarized– and that his 4-month-old puppy Max, a 6-lb. Dachshund and German shepherd mix, was missing.

"I had come home first at 5:30 p.m. to play with Max and run him around the yard before I went out for dinner an hour later while my wife and six kids spent the evening at her mother's house a few miles away," Alioto, 41, tells PEOPLEPets.com. "I left the house empty for four hours, and when I got back around 10:30 p.m., I saw we were robbed and our little Max was gone."

Alioto, the IT director at a Baltimore stem-cell research company, noticed many items missing: a television, two computers, Christmas gifts, a PlayStation, video games and some small electronics around his work desk. And the dining room window was wide open.

"I noticed on the couch the cushion was up, so I thought Max had jumped over it," Alioto continues. "So I looked under the couch where Max goes when we vacuum. He wasn't there. So I looked everywhere for him, upstairs, in the back, you name it. Outside, I saw there was snow, but no dog tracks in it."

Frantic, Alioto called friends, neighbors and the Baltimore police to report the incident. He had his family spend the night at his mother-in-law's house so he could clean up the mess and continue searching for Max.

"On Christmas Eve, my older children (the kids range from ages 3 to 12) and I made flyers and put them up at vets' offices, grocery stores and other posts around the area," Alioto tells PEOPLEPets.com. "I called the three TV stations, and they all did stories. I even put Max and his photo up on Craigslist. So far we have had nothing but false alarms and no luck even finding the thieves."

Max, a quiet and affectionate puppy, who likes to sit on the couch with his head on Alioto's and the kids' shoulders, is black with a brown and white chest and paws. He was not wearing a collar and rarely barks.

"We were not even looking for a pet when a friend's dog had babies and gave us Max after we picked him out of the crowd in November," he says. "We are all very upset and want him back. We will offer a reward for his return."

If you have any information about Max, please contact the Baltimore Police Department.

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