ABC Radio Interview 19/12/11

Newcastle Herald 30/7/12

Newcastle Herald 22/06/12


With a growing number of dog thefts from Hunter backyards, it’s well worth keeping an eye on your pets, writes Jaimie Abbott.

 There has been no stone left unturned in the pursuit to find Tank, the Bulldog who was recently stolen from a Rutherford backyard. Tank’s owner has launched a massive media blitz, dropped thousands of flyers in letterboxes, set up a facebook page, and offered a generous reward of $6000.

A fortnight after he went missing, Tank is yet to be found. Sadly, he is one of thousands of domestic animals stolen from Australian backyards each year. Unless this happens to you, it’s difficult to imagine the trauma and grief suffered by everyone involved – including the dog.

Hunter Animal Rescue’s facebook page has been flooded with similar reports of dogs being stolen all over the Hunter, with grave fears they are being used for illegal dog fighting. One woman reported her German Shepherd and Rottweiler had been taken from her backyard, only for the Rottweiler to return a few days later with injuries to the head, legs and stomach. The local vet conceded the poor dog had been involved in extensive dog fighting, and the dog had to be put to sleep.

While police admit the practice of dog fighting isn’t common, they haven’t ruled out the possibility of a dog fighting ring operating here in the Hunter. It is a loving pet owner’s worst nightmare, and sadly no dog breed is protected from the people involved in this horrible practice. Small dogs, puppies and kittens, and even placid Labradors, are stolen as ‘sacrificial victims’ and used as bait, where they are often used to test an animal’s fighting instinct.

The concept of dog fighting dates back to the Coliseum combats of Ancient Rome, and throughout history dogs have been trained to fight in human battles as warriors or amongst themselves. Modern day dog-fighting procedures are basically the same, where two dogs are placed in a “pit” for the purpose of attacking and mauling each other, much to the gambling and entertainment pleasure of spectators. The fight can go on for hours and ends when one of the dogs is no longer able to continue or eventually dies.

Whenever we hear of the possibility of organised dog fighting here it sends a shock wave through the local animal-loving community. This deadly and illegal pastime could be happening in any neighbourhood and it’s up to all of us to expose and stop this underground and horrific practice.

It’s difficult for Police to catch the offenders, so if anyone suspects a dog fight is happening in their area they should ring the Police or RSPCA where the information will be treated as confidential.

Increasing the risk of dog fighting is the frequent advertising of “Free to good home” pets in newspapers and online. Sometimes it is with good intention and owners need to give up their animals due to various personal circumstances. However by offering the animal as a give-away, this leaves them exposed and vulnerable to being picked up by dog fight organisers. Instead, we urge those who do need to give up their pet to take it to their local pound or contact a local animal rescue group where they have the best chance of it being re-homed into a loving household.

Dog-fighting is by far the worst possible motive for a dog thief, but animals can also be stolen for profit, with purebreds often attracting quite a lot of money once they are sold.

If your dog is left outside when you are not home, it’s best to try and prevent them from being highly visible from the street, and place a padlock on your fence or gate. Similarly, don’t leave your dog alone tied up while you go inside a shopping centre. Not only have dogs in Newcastle been stolen this way outside Supermarkets, they have also escaped after becoming anxious from being left alone.

Finally, all owners who are missing a dog should report it to Police immediately, rather than wait until the animal returns home. Those who innocently jump, dig or break their way out of their backyard are at a high risk of being stolen or hit by a car.

At the very least, it’s important for pet owners to ensure their animal has an ID Tag and an up-to-date microchip. This way if the dog is taken to a vet they will be able to identify the real owner. This is similar to taking out insurance – you will possibly never need to use it, but if you don’t do anything about it you could be kicking yourself later if you don’t.

ABC Newcastle Radio Interview June 2009


Click here to view full story

Hunter Animal Rescue has been helping and rescuing animals for many years and has a network of carers throughout the hunter.

One of these carers is Angie DiLorenzo of Merewether and her dog Oscar is the star of the show around the house.

You can find out more about Hunter Animal Rescue at

Contact Us

  • Questions about foster animals are best sent directly to their carers via the email address listed on the fosters profile.