MYSTERY surrounds the disappearance of four dogs from one Boolaroo street within hours of each other, with the owners adamant their pets could not have broken out of their yards without human help.
Skai Mitchell is continuing to console her two children, 10-year-old Zane and Trinity, 6, after their Staffordshire pup Lilo vanished from their Macquarie Street home during a stormy Monday night.
A second Staffordshire, a desexed male called Stitch, remained in the yard, where Lilo would have needed to manoeuvre through two fences before getting out.
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Just a few doors down, Darren Young and Tracey Blades woke on Tuesday morning to find three Pomeranian pups gone from the padlocked aviary-cum-kennel they had built to keep them safe.
There was evidence in the backyard, where forensic police have also scoured for clues, that points to someone coming in and grabbing the little dogs.
‘‘We don’t really want to think what has happened to them,’’ Mr Young said yesterday.
‘‘We are hoping someone has stolen them for a puppy farm and not to be used as bait dogs [for rumoured dog-fighting rings].’’
Ms Mitchell said she had no doubt Lilo had been stolen, possibly to breed with.
But she had also heard the dog-fighting rumours, which have surfaced periodically despite authorities never finding any evidence that they exist.
Rumours last year that dozens of dogs were being snatched for fighting were shot down by police, who confirmed only 20 dogs were reported missing across the Hunter in the first six months of the year – and 14 of those were returned home unharmed.
Whatever happened to them, the owners of Lilo the Staffy and Benji, Millie and Princess, the Pomeranians, are stressed.
‘‘We are beside ourselves, my daughter especially,’’ Ms Mitchell said.
‘‘[Lilo] was her puppy and she is just so worried, as am I, that whoever took Lilo is going to come back.’’
A Lake Macquarie City Council spokeswoman said the disappearances of the Staffy and Pomeranians were the only reported missing dogs in that area in the past few weeks, dispelling concerns that more dogs could have been taken.
A Facebook site, ‘‘Help us find Lilo’’, has had more than 600 ‘‘likes’’.