Ruapehu folk are mourning the loss of a two-legged character, who will no longer be seen strutting the pavements of down-town Taumarunui.
The rural town's resident rooster was a regular feature on Hakiaha St and lived in a reserve across the road from a dairy. Cars would slow down and the drivers hang out the window to say gidday to the little battler as he went about his daily routine. He'd growl at kids that gave him cheek as he went for his daily trek up the street, putting smiles on the faces of people walking by.
But the black and red feathered friend to many met an untimely end when he crossed the path of a black pitbull cross. The rooster was fatally attacked by the dog, ironically outside the dairy he regularly visited.
Ruapehu District Council said the rooster escaped but was so badly injured, he had to be put down by animal control staff. Waikato Times broke the news of the animal's sudden death to an employee at West End Dairy, which the rooster frequented on a daily basis.
The woman at the shop said she was unaware her "little mate" had his life cut short and was now possibly dog-tucker.
"Oh my God, oh my God - he was my little mate," she said.
"He used to look at himself in the window and every morning I would go and say good morning to him and he would look up and then go back to what he was doing. Oh no, this is so sad."
The retailer, who did not want to be named, said the rooster would often have her in tears of laughter when he crossed the road. "Everyone that lives around this area knows him - the cars would stop on the street to let him cross, I'm surprised that didn't kill him."
The retailer described the rooster as a dairy "regular" that customers and residents grew to love.
She had worked at the dairy for three year and would see him each day, and understood that he was around for a lot longer than that.
Ruapehu District Council wants to find the dog responsible for killing Taumarunui's much-loved village rooster as well as identify roaming canines attacking stock in Raetihi.
The rooster, which had become a Taumarunui identity, was mauled outside a dairy and had to be put down by council staff.
The council also wants people to report roaming dogs, as well as to report stock which has been attacked.
Uncontrolled dogs have become a particular problem in Ruapehu and in one incident, canines mauled 40 sheep and lambs in Raetihi.
Ruapehu council team leader compliance Brenda Ralph said the Raetihi attack was particularly horrific.
She said Raetihi had been plagued by a series of dog attacks during the past six months.
"This is just the latest in a number of horrific attacks where sheep have been killed or have needed to be put down due to the injuries they have sustained," Ralph said.
The farmer whose sheep were attacked shot one of the dogs on his property and police shot the other.
Ruapehu council had strong leads about who owned the dogs and was investigating possible prosecutions.
"Many people can't believe that their beloved family pet that wouldn't hurt a fly would be involved in an attack on sheep," Ralph said.
"Unfortunately when dogs get together in a pack their hard-wired hunter instincts are dominant."
Any dog being exercised needed to be kept on a lead, Ralph said.
She said once dogs started this behaviour they kept on doing it until they were caught. Ralph said attacks often happened at night so it was important owners kept their dogs secure during this time.
- Waikato Times