Pet owners worry thieves targeting dogs
Mysterious markings appearing on fences around Invercargill have dog owners worried a ring of dog thieves is on the prowl.
Several dog-owners have contacted The Southland Times to report the appearance of strange markings left on their fences and properties and said their pets were being targeted by dog-fighting rings.
Invercargill resident Adam Wilkinson said he noticed a purple paint mark near his letter box and it appeared someone had been on his property.
He said he feared the tag was pointing to the fact he had pure-bred pit bull in his yard.
"I am not the only one reporting strange tags on their property or fences," he said.
"I believe dogs are being targeted either to be used as a fighting dog or for smaller ones, as bait."
Another Invercargill resident and dog owner, Leana Young, said she noticed a chalk mark on her fence that had not been there previously.
There was also a plastic bag purposely tied to her fence with a rope, she said.
She believed her mastiff was a target for dog thieves and was worried enough to contact police.
"I am so worried I don't leave my dog outside any more. I don't want my dog to end up in a fighting ring," Young said.
Stacey Blackie said she had heard whistling at the end of her driveway on her Invercargill section.
"I have also seen suspicious cars driving slowly past our driveway," she said.
Her dogs were now kept inside at all times, she said.
"I don't want them ending up dog fighting."
Southland woman Donna Waby has started a Facebook page - Help stop the dog thieves - dedicated to sharing information about reported dog thefts and suspicious behaviour on dog owners' properties.
"I have been rallying together with others to try to stop these people who are stealing everyone's beloved pets," she said.
However, police have told dog owners there is nothing to worry about.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Bowman, of Invercargill, said police were aware of some dog owners reporting tags appearing on their properties and there was plenty of speculation on social media in Invercargill about dogs being targeted by thieves, but police did not believe there was a a group of dog thieves working in the area, he said.
"There is nothing to give rise to the fact there is a ring operating to steal dogs for fighting or for other purposes," he said.
There had been only one case of a missing dog reported to police and it had eventually been reunited with its owner, he said.
Bowman said the markings reportedly left on people's fences and property could be unrelated and coincidental.
There were also reports from members of the public of dogs being stolen in Dunedin.
However, Dunedin police have also quashed the rumours, saying "messages circulating via email and social media about an alleged string of dog thefts in Dunedin appear to be a continuation of a long-running internet hoax or urban legend".
The Southland Times