A Repton resident fears her dog was stolen and used as live bait to blood more aggressive breeds, before they are forced to fight in illegal gambling rings.
The claim comes after a series of bizarre incidents, and Coralie Gauld’s tethered mini fox terrier disappeared from the front of her house.
She told the Courier-Sun her nightmare began a couple of weeks ago when she was wakened by a late night disturbance
“At 3 o’clock in the morning my family and a guest heard a squeal from the backyard,” Coralie said.
“So we all rushed out to find a dead possum – ripped apart with my two of my dogs, a Siberian husky and red kelpie cross bull mastiff near it.
“At the time I didn’t understand how it could happen. We have seven foot fences and possums just don’t land in the yard.”
Perplexed and distraught, Coralie said the possum carcass was removed and seemingly, she thought, the event was a one-off.
However, a couple of days later, Coralie’s husband called her at work.
“Everyone had gone to work for the day and when my husband came home he found Teza (mini fox terrier) was not at home and his leash had not snapped, or broken – it was just stretched out on the lawn,” she said.
“He’s our little guard dog at the front, while the other two are at the back of the house securely fenced.
“Anyway, that afternoon and night we searched for Teza everywhere, but did not find him. Teza is micro-chipped, so next morning my daughter called all the veterinarians from Urunga to Woolgoolga. She called the Bellingen and Coffs Harbour rangers, the RSPCA and the police. But Teza had not been seen or handed in – he’d just disappeared.”
Coralie said it was then that her son began to ask others in the community if there had been any more dogs stolen.
“We found out there had been two dogs stolen at Sapphire and even when the owner offered a $5000 reward, they had not been returned,” she said.
“And we also discovered how thieves target and ‘stalk’ dogs outside their homes before taking them.
“We searched around and found markings on the front of the block – white fluorescent stipes - and yellow markings on the front letter box. We had to use a degreaser to take them off.
“So I think the plan was to take all three dogs – the big canines for dog fighting and the mini foxie for live baiting.
“A vet called us about a week after the event and asked a few questions and told us that by throwing a possum into the backyard it would test to see if the red kelpie cross and Siberian husky would kill.
“And when they did, they came back on a day we were all out to take all the dogs, but they were interrupted by a neighbour’s cleaner.
“They were unsuccessful at getting all three dogs, but sadly they took Teza for live bait.”
Coralie said after talking to police no one knows the extent of the problem in the area, but anecdotally and on social media there’s talk of dog fighting rings from Port Macquarie to Brisbane.
A Facebook post by a Coffs Harbour local resident said: “There is a ring operating that is stealing dogs - of all sizes - and using these animals to blood up other dogs or for use in actual dog fights. These people are known to be mobile in these fights, with scheduled dog fights known to be or have been held in Nana Glen, Glenreagh, Lanitza and Kungala. Persons are brought in via mini buses or overloaded vehicles, usually at night, to properties in these areas for the purposes of staged dog fights. If anyone knows or hears anything about this, please contact the police on 1800 333 000. The police are aware of this activity, but cannot act and stop this horrendous cruelty unless they know. These rings are fuelled by gambling and are growing in popularity. If anyone knows anything, please advise police as it is a growth industry in our community and must be stopped”.
In the meantime, Coralie is asking the community to be vigilant with their own animals and check for the signs.
“These are family pets who will endure an enormous amount of pain and suffering … it’s hard to believe people can do this to an animal.”
An RSPCA NSW spokesperson said they were alerted to the concerns via text messages being circulated as well as messages on Facebook.
“Dogs being used as bait for these illegal rings is not unheard of and is quite disturbing,” the spokesperson said.
“It's obviously illegal activity, both from a cruelty to animals perspective and also gambling aspect.”
A police spokesman confirmed the thefts were being investigated.