The SPCA of Petersburg and Colonial Heights plans to bring its concerns to police.
The group's president says people from out of state have been trapping cats and asking shelters for puppies and kittens.
Pat Kile believes the strangers may also be looking at your pets to make a quick buck.
It's a quick way to make cash.
"Something like three million pets owned animals are stolen each year for research purposes," said Kile.
Kile says at one time, people could pocket $25 for each dog turned over to a research facility.
Kile says she doesn't have solid proof but is worried people with those intentions are targeting pets and strays near the Appomattox river bank in Hopewell for large medical research facilities in the Washington, D.C. area.
Kile says Hopewell's City Point park, a known spot for strays, is where a person was seen trapping cats and left in a vehicle with Maryland tags.
The next day, Kile says a tri-cities shelter reported a suspicious encounter with some people looking for puppies -- they walked away with five. Kile says they too were from out of state.
"A shelter employee was approached by individuals who said they were a part of a new rescue group," said Kile.
Kile says pet owners should be on guard.
"That if for example they have a litter of kittens be very careful to whom they give those animals," said Kile.