Whangārei dog daycare Doggy Den owner Sarah Hayes thinks bully breeds are particularly at risk of being stolen in Northland, such as 6-year-old Dozer in her arms. Photo / Michael Cunningham
A brazen dog-napping attempt in Whangārei is just another example of concerns plaguing the Northland dog owner community who say dog thefts are increasing.
The staffy dog that was almost stolen is a regular resident
at Whangārei dog daycare Doggy Den, owned by Sarah Hayes, who elected to speak on behalf of the “terrified” dog owner.
The Whangārei woman was walking her pet off the lead alongside her baby in a pram in the Kauri area when it was almost taken.
“[The dog] ran up ahead and didn’t come back,” Hayes said.
The woman continued walking to find her neighbour holding her dog, both visibly upset.
“She was like, ‘oh my god, what’s happened?’ and [the neighbour] said, ‘two men have just tried to grab [the dog] off the side of the road’,” Hayes explained.
The woman’s husband found the people believed responsible sitting in a car up the road and was able to take a picture of the vehicle, but they drove off before they could be confronted.
“This is in her own neighbourhood, [the dog] was supervised but up ahead so she couldn’t see, and they’ve just tried to take the dog.”
The Advocate understands the car was later found dumped in the Far North region.
“There is definitely a huge increase in dog thefts at the moment,” Hayes said.
Hayes thinks Rottweilers, staffy and “any type of bully breed with a big head” are most at risk of being stolen, possibly due to the demand for the desirable breeds.
At the time of publishing, Trade Me showed 18 listings for staffy breed dogs, one of them priced at $10,000.
Two pet dogs were found mutilated, riddled with bullets and covered in bite marks in the Far North in May.
Bay of Islands Animal Rescue’s Summer Johnson said autopsies carried out on the family pets showed “clear evidence” of them being used in dog-fighting.
Asked about rumours of the activity in the Upper North Island, police said, “staff have advised multiple times that they don’t have any knowledge of dog-fighting rings in the area”.
Regarding dog theft statistics and data in Northland, a police spokesperson told the Advocate, “unfortunately this isn’t something we can provide you with”.
Northland police urge the public to report any suspicious behaviour to them so it can be investigated and any trends can be identified.
“While police are aware of anecdotal information in regard to ongoing rumours of dogs going missing in the area, we rely on evidence from the public to be able to make inquiries.
“… generally it’s not an issue we are immediately aware of based off the limited info provided,” a police spokesperson said.
SPCA tips for preventing dog theft
• Make sure your dog is microchipped and registered with both council and NZCAR.
• Your dog should wear a collar and ID tag with your name and address on it.
• Have lots of photos of yourself and your dog including distinguishing features, before and after grooming trips.
Play it safe:
• Train your dog to come back to you when called or keep them on an extended lead.
• Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop, no matter how safe the neighbourhood seems.
• Watch your dog when they are in the garden and ensure fences and gates are secure.
• Consider CCTV to deter thieves or fit a bell to the gate.
If the worst happens:
• If you suspect your dog has been stolen, call the police on 105.
• If the theft is happening now contact the police immediately by calling 111.
• Report the loss/theft to your local council’s dog control and on https://www.lostpet.co.nz/
• Make posters around your community, especially at veterinary clinics and dog parks.
• Put out appeals on social media and encourage friends to share them.
• Contact local animal shelters and local vets in case someone takes your dog in for treatment.