POLICE are investigating after the body of a stolen dog was found dumped in the Coalfields.
It follows numerous canine thefts in the area, prompting fears of dog fighting rings.
It is believed the dog is Tank, a bulldog stolen from a Rutherford backyard on June 8.
The incident was among reports this month of a growing number of dog thefts from backyards, particularly in Maitland’s western suburbs.
A day after Tank went missing, an American Staffordshire bull terrier was taken from Telarah, and an English Staffordshire bull terrier stolen from the same property a week later. Dog owners and an animal rights group, The Society of Companion Animal Rescuers, said they feared the dogs were being stolen for illegal dog fighting.
The Newcastle Herald was unable to contact Tank’s owner, Amy Cole, last night.
However Ms Cole, who offered a $6000 reward for Tank’s safe return, expressed on Facebook her sadness over the dog’s discovery.
Her post said the body was found dumped on the side of the road not far from home.
The RSPCA and police were looking after the case, with initial investigations indicating that Tank had not been hit by a car, nor did he die of heart failure or dehydration.
His collar was missing.
‘‘It was a collar that was fitted so it had to be removed by someone,’’ Ms Cole’s Facebook post said.
She said that after putting heart and soul into bringing Tank home, the result was devastating.
‘‘I am mortified, and absolutely beside myself,’’ Ms Cole said.
She thanked friends for their support, help and dedication to Tank.
Central Hunter police confirmed yesterday that a dog had been found and said a vet would do an autopsy.