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Devastating dog thefts continue in Far North

Almost three-year-old Chihuahua cross Gucci went missing from Taipa beach one year ago. Her owner de ella is appealing for any information about her whereabouts de ella. Photo/Supplied

Dani Kelly’s voice grew thin with grief as she spoke about the one-year anniversary of the theft of her adored dog Gucci.

The chihuahua cross, who loved barking at the breaking waves, was allegedly last seen being carried away from Taipā Beach by a young man on July 14 last year.

“We are heartbroken without Gucci,” Kelly said.

“I never realized how much hurt and pain could be caused by losing an animal.

“I’ve spent endless nights crying and, as silly as it sounds, I won’t go to Mangōnui Wharf anymore because it just reminds me too much of her.”

Sightings of Gucci have continued, giving Kelly and her family renewed hope of one day being reunited while reigniting the pain of her absence in their lives.

The chihuahua cross would be nearly three years old now and has a black snout, white paws, ears that stand up, a curly tail, a white square-shaped patch on her chest, and ‘looks like she’s wearing eyeliner’.

Gucci was wearing a red puffer vest, with a long green camo jacket when she disappeared.

Since then, Kelly said Gucci had reportedly been seen in a car in Kaitāia, being carried along SH10 in Coopers Beach and at Tokoroa Beach.

Kelly said there was a reward for Gucci’s safe return, or for a sighting or information that led to her return.

She also claimed many small dogs had gone missing in Northland, including Skoota 9 months ago, Panda 8 months ago and Snoop 4 months ago.

“And so many more just vanish, stolen in seconds,” Kelly said.

“I believe it’s because small dog breeds are sold anywhere from $1000 for a mixed breed to $4500 for pure bred, even without papers.

“It’s easy money for heartless thieves.”

According to Donna Badorek, founder and trustee of Donna Doolittle’s Animal Rescue, many dogs were going missing in the Far North and all over the country.

“I certainly believe there is an increase in the incidence of dogs going missing, and it does raise concern,” she said.

“I find most suspected stolen dogs seem to be pedigree dogs, which have a high dollar value.”

Donna Doolittles Animal Rescue has been a registered non-profit charity since 2018, while Badorek has been doing rescue work in Kaitaia for longer than eight years.

Badorek said missing dogs tended to be ones that had escaped or wandered off their property.

Such was the case for Gucci as well. After getting a bit too excited about chasing waves, she made her way to the opposite end of the beach at Taipā.

It appeared she was then picked up while her family was driving to the other end of the beach to reach her.

According to a nearby bach owner, they had allegedly witnessed Gucci being carried away by a young male wearing a red hoody.

The bach owner said they then saw the young male walking past Taipa Area School towards the toilets.

Kelly made a report to Mangonui Police.

Badorek said the ease of taking a dog, especially around Kaitaia where they often roamed freely, was a big issue because “some intentions of the use of these dogs could be horrific”.

She cited motivation like dog fighting rings, and the desire to possess a specific breed of dog without a willingness to pay the price.

And some, she said, simply wanted to on-sell valuable dogs for big money.

Kelly said she had reported a sighting of Gucci at a residential address to police but was told they were unable to approach the property without photo evidence.

According to Badorek, however, this seemed odd, as police had recently helped her recover a stolen puppy without photo evidence of its presence at the property.

Although she said she was not fully aware of the legality of the issue, Badorek said “if there has been a sighting of a dog at a property and police have been notified and have visual evidence of what the dog looks like, I can’t see how there is an issue for them to turn up and check.”

According to Mid North response manager Senior Sergeant Sarah Wihongi police would generally investigate any report of any incident of theft, as long as it was reported to Police.

“Generally, Police wouldn’t be able to enter an address to investigate without the grounds to do so,” Wihongi said.

“We would ask any informant to provide as much detail as possible.”

She added Northland Police were aware of concerns raised about dogs going missing in the area.

“That’s why we remain focused on prevention advice for our communities.”

Wihongi added that while Police were aware of anecdotal information in regards to ongoing rumors of dogs going missing in the area they relied on evidence from the public to be able to make inquiries.

“We continue to urge the public to report any suspicious behavior to us.

“We would also note that from time to time on social media people will report this type of activity. But for it to actually be verified, we would need a report made.”

Wihongi said thefts needed to therefore be reported, not only to allow for investigation but for any trends to be identified.

She also said at this stage, Police did not have any knowledge of a dog fighting ring in the area.

Donna Badorek said she wasn’t sure what the solution to dog thefts could be, other than someone bringing out GPS microchips to insert to track the animals down.

She said the other thing people could do was to ensure they kept their dogs safe on their property.

“Don’t let them roam. Make sure their living area is safe and secure,” she said.

“And make sure dogs are microchipped and registered on the National Dog Database, not just the vets or the council database.”

As for people whose dogs have been stolen, Badorek said “don’t give up.”

“And use the power of social media.”

Kelly pleaded with the public to support her in bringing Gucci home.

“If people think they have seen her, I need photos or an address – something that will help me get to where she’s living.”

Police said: “If someone has come on to your property and taken something, including a pet, this should be reported to your local Police station.”

People can also call Police on 105 to report a crime after it has happened.

If a theft is happening now, contact the Police immediately by calling 111.

Anonymous reports can be made to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

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