A PAXTON family fears their bulldog was stolen for dog-fighting purposes at the weekend after hearing about a string of thefts of particular breeds, including a pigging dog, in the area.
Brendon Clark is now calling on the person who took their beloved Elroy to give him back, no questions asked, after discovering his property’s wire fence was “snipped” in various places on Sunday morning.
This latest theft comes after hooded men were seen stealing three French bulldogs from a home in the Toronto area last week.
Mr Clark said he’d also heard of a pigging dog being taken from a Millfield property last weekend.
“We’ve heard this area has had a lot of dogs stolen over the past year,” he added.
Mr Clark, who has reported the matter to police, said he believed someone took Elroy, an Aussie bulldog, between 2.30am and 6.30am from Millfield Road.
He said it was concerning because six months earlier their Alaskan Malamute, Maya, disappeared for a few hours and returned aggressive and scared.
“She’s a completely different dog since that happened,” Mr Clark said.
This prompted him to spend thousands of dollars upgrading his fencing so passersby could not open their gate to let the dogs out – but this time someone has used bolt cutters or pliers.
Mr Clark said if Elroy, 17months, was stolen for dog-fighting purposes he would be useless because he “had a gentle nature”.
“He just loves people and wouldn’t hurt anyone,” he said.
“My one-year-old son’s first word was Dad and his second word was Elroy.”
Mr Clark said he bought Elroy for $2000 and was planning to use him as a stud– another possible motive for taking him.
“We can only hope it is for something like that,” he said.
“We’ve reported his microchip as stolen to council so there’s no point trying to sell him unless you offloaded him for cheap through the black market.
“I’d just plead with someone to give him back; we’re gutted and devastated as a family, it is just a feeling of emptiness.”
Last year the Newcastle Herald reported that an organised underground dog-fighting ring was operating in Port Stephens, with thousands gambled on fights ever few months.
Society of Companion Animal Rescuers president Sue Barker, who lives in the Hunter, said that dog-fighting rings “were definitely happening”.
“We see the dogs that are in a terrible state because of it,” she said.
“The motive is money.”
Ms Barker highlighted Barnsley, Karuah, bushland in the Watagan Mountains and the Central Coast as areas she’d been informed had held dog-fighting meetings.
Central Hunter acting crime manager Detective Inspector Mitch Dubojski said police had not received recent reports about dog fights or anything similar.
“If there are people in the community who have information relating to it we encourage them to come forward, either through the police station or Crime Stoppers,” he said.
“We do work hand-in-hand with the RSPCA and often go out to properties and assist them.
“A lot of police are animal lovers and we won’t tolerate violence against animals.”