IN THE NEWS: On DEC 20, 2015
Animal welfare groups fear dogs that have gone missing in Tauranga are being stolen for "dog baiting" in illegal underground dog fighting rings.
The warning comes amid a spate of lost dogs reported in Gate Pa and posts on Facebook cautioning owners to be vigilant and on the lookout for dog thieves.
Figures from Tauranga SPCA show six dogs were reported lost in Gate Pa in 2014 compared to 12 this year while it reported 166 incidences of lost dogs for all of Tauranga in 2014 compared to 133 in 2015.
Animal welfare inspector Anna Porteous said it was not a high number and "that would make us think there are dogs being targeted and stolen for the purpose of dog baiting".
Puppy Love Dog training owner Chelles McIntosh had put up a post on Facebook alerting watchers to be observant and keep an eye on their dogs.
She lived in Gate Pa and said: "I am so sick of these b******* taking these dogs". It was the third dog in her street to go missing, she said.
It was "absolute hell and torture and pure evilness for the poor dogs that get stolen to use as bait," she said.
Her advice was to keep dogs inside at night and when you were not at home.
Other posts had also appeared on Tauranga Buy, Sell, Swap advising people to keep an ear out for dog thieves at night while concerns had also been raised on Animals of Tauranga.
Paw Justice co-founder Craig Dunn said he could guarantee dog fighting was happening across the country and in the Bay of Plenty.
A guy that had been involved in dog fighting for 20 years described it as "having your own personal boxer and was about the breed, the bloodline and being a champion then profiting off the puppies from that dog," he said.
If a dog was used for baiting, "your dog will die. It will be killed," he said.
Dog thieves might follow people walking dogs or stroll through neighbourhoods with a dog lead making out they had lost a dog and often it would be women as they created less suspicion, he said.
Paw Justice had fought against dog fighting but it was hard to prosecute and "catch them in the act" or get video footage because "it's very underground", he said.
Greerton Police sergeant Richard Martin said technically a dog was property so if someone had stolen a dog it was theft. However, records at this stage did not suggest there were dog thieves operating in the area.
"But that is not to say it's not happening as the complaints may not had been laid yet."