A group of pet-loving criminal lawyers has launched an online campaign to flush out whoever killed and mutilated a family's pet dog then dumped it on a front lawn.
Portia, a 6-year-old fox terrier, vanished from her home in Karaka, south of Auckland, 10 days ago. A week later, her body was found on the lawn of its owner.
The dog had been skinned, a paw and both ears were missing, and her shoulder was broken. The SPCA says the attack could be connected to the mutilation of two pet rabbits in nearby Papakura in May.
Now a group of Auckland lawyers have built a website, www.deaddogrewardfund.co.nz, and are asking pet-lovers to go online and make pledges toward a reward, which they will pay out for information that leads to a conviction.
The site goes live this morning and lawyers have started the ball rolling with a $500 pledge.
The site asks participants to "pledge as much as you can reasonably afford, so the size of the dead dog reward fund is so large that even the offender's mother, girlfriend or best mate will be tempted to turn in this dog killer".
In the event of a conviction, the group will chase up the reward pledges made online, giving half of the proceeds to the informant, and half to the SPCA.
The group's spokeswoman, solicitor Carole Curtis, said she feared that a person who could commit such a crime could one day go on to hurt a human.
"But even if they don't, it's the most awful and disgusting thing to do."
She said her other concern was that the person responsible had "something seriously wrong with the way they see the world if they're doing something so cruel", so quite aside from their criminal responsibility, she believes they "need to be helped".
Meanwhile, the animal rights group Paw Justice has also pledged on its website to give a $1000 reward for information leading to a conviction.
Portia's owner, Kelly Newby, said she was "gobsmacked" that people were willing to invest their time and money to help find her dog's killer.
She said Portia's death was just starting to sink in. "My kids really miss their pet. I miss my little friend."
Bob Kerridge of the SPCA said if the promise of a reward via the lawyers' website "can help us make progress, that would be great".
He said cases of animal cruelty of this kind were rare - mutilation of the body, whether it happened before or after death, was a step up from simply killing an animal, and to do further by dumping it on the family's lawn, "is the act of a warped mind".
- Sunday Star Times