Jemma Calder and Gavin Howie, of Mosgiel, with a poster for
their missing dog Rusty. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Police and SPCA Otago are playing down concerns about a
Rumours about dog fighting rings and disappearances have been
circulating on social media and several people approached the
Otago Daily Times regarding two skinned dogs being
discarded in Milton last week.
When contacted by the ODT, Milton police said they had
received no reports of such an incident. However, the latest
rumours come after Mosgiel couple Gavin Howie and Jemma
Calder's Staffordshire bull terrier was reported missing last
Senior Sergeant Craig Brown, of Dunedin, said while police
had received reports of ''suspicious people'' following the
disappearance of Mr Howie and Ms Calder's dog, he was not
aware of any other reports of missing dogs.
Police posted a message on their Facebook page earlier this
month saying dog theft messages were ''likely a hoax'' and
appeared to be a continuation of a long-running urban legend.
It had been suggested fences were being marked with chalk and
dogs stolen by people wearing balaclavas.
Roy Nicolaou, of Brighton, had two dogs, a lockley and a
collie, stolen while hunting at Macraes last month.
He intended reporting the matter to the police, but wanted to
wait because ''as soon as police get involved dogs get
He did not know if it was related to reports of other missing
dogs, but he was sure ''they were stolen to be kept or
Dog Rescue Dunedin manager Michelle Hagar said the
organisation was ''unsure'' whether it was a hoax or not.
It was concerned about the rumours and had heard suggestions
of dog fighting in Dunedin, she said.
The organisation was not trying to ''scaremonger'', but
believed it was better for people to be prepared and aware of
the possibility of dogs being stolen.
''If people notice anything that's suspicious they need to
ring 111 immediately to pass it on to police to follow up,''
SPCA Otago executive officer Sophie McSkimming said she had
received no other reports of missing dogs.
''If anything was going on like that in our neighbourhood,
people would contact SPCA,'' she said.
Her biggest concern was the rumours might ''give people
When contacted, Mr Howie said his dog, Rusty, was still
He had heard many rumours about dog thefts and, while he did
not believe them, they only added to his anxiety about the
loss of Rusty.