A disturbing discovery is fuelling fears that something awful is happening to dogs in southeastern Manitoba.

Multiple residents in the area have reported their dogs disappearing recently.

On Jan. 9, Rachel Wiebe was driving on a highway in southeastern Manitoba, near New Bothwell, when she spotted something.

“I was hoping I was wrong so I turned around to get a closer look and it’s exactly what I thought I saw,” said Wiebe.

In the ditch, she said she saw what appeared to be a skinned dog, propped up in the snow. A set of footprints were beside it, making it seem like someone had deliberately placed the animal there for everyone to see.

She said she took pictures of it and reported it.

“We’re not fearful. We’re angry – angry that people are coming into our property and taking our animals that are like our family,” said Cathy Boule, whose dog is among those that disappeared.

Some residents believe their animals have been taken by someone.

“People have suspected for probably the last year or two that there might be some sort of coordinated effort to steal some dogs,” said Greg Mitchell, who runs the Facebook group Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert.

While many believe their pets have been stolen, police said they don’t have the evidence to prove it.

“I would caution people not to come to conclusions and don't become panicked about your animals. And of course people care about their pets, they're family members and I understand. We'll go where the evidence leads us and we'll follow this through,” said Cpl. Miles Hiebert from RCMP.

Police said that while the dead animal may look like a dog, it could be a coyote.

A veterinarian has been called to determine the species and the cause of death.

Wiebe hopes progress is made in the investigation into the disappearing dogs.

Police asking anyone with information on suspicious vehicles or eyewitness accounts of dog thefts to report them to their local RCMP.

* warning - attached video contains graphic images