MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Seven dogs were stolen from the Mount Vernon Animal Shelter just days after Christmas.  The dognappers came in the cover of darkness to the shelter, where there are no alarms and no surveillance cameras.

Now the volunteer group, Friends of the Mount Vernon Animal Shelter, is offering a $1,000 reward for their safe return.

“We’re all devastated. It’s been very, very traumatic,” pet rescue volunteer Susan Matos told WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi.

WCBS 880 Reporter Catherine Cioffi gets details from the Mount Vernon Shelter

LINK: Mount Vernon Animal Shelter’s Facebook Page

The dogs were taken from the shelter on Dec. 28 and 29 after apparent break-ins.

Five of the dogs are docile mixed breed pit bulls. One of them, named “Dicey,” was at the shelter for a rabies evaluation and was rescued from a Bronx crack house five years ago.  She may need to be rescued again.

“This is my child, you know? Not knowing where she is, now knowing what hands she’s in, not knowing what’s being done to her is what’s killing me,” Dicey’s owner, Lisa Connelly, told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

“There’s no way they could have gotten out by themselves,” Matos told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.

1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reports

Matos said that she is especially worried that the stolen dogs could be used for bait in a dog fighting ring.

“The dogs that are trained for fighting are trained by using dogs who don’t fight back,” she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Mount Vernon Police Department at (914) 665-2500, Mount Vernon Animal Shelter at (914) 665-2444 or volunteers at 914-841-1001.

Another missing dog, named “Jack” had just been adopted and was about to be picked up. The beagle was going to work as a bed bug sniffer for a local company. The young woman who walked him every day expressed worry about the dogs’ whereabouts.

“The area the shelter is in isn’t so great and they took a lot of dogs that potentially looked aggressive, but weren’t. But who knows what they would use the smaller dogs for. It’s really scary,” Mary Oddox said.

“Needless to say, none of us can really rest easy until these dogs are found and they were all really gentle, sweet souls,” Matos said.