Horrific reason why dogs have gone missing in Lismore
A YEARLY trend could be emerging after reports of "a steady stream of largish dogs" being stolen from the Lismore area and potentially used as bait dogs for a dog fighting ring.
After a woman, who wished to remain anonymous, recently tipped off The Northern Star about the issue, Lismore Pets and Saddles owner Lucinda Dyason confirmed dog breeds such as staffys, pit bulls and Dogue de Boudreauxs were targeted and stolen each year for dog fighting.
But beforehand, the perpetrators would scope and mark houses as possible targets.
"Yes it does happen and there will be a spate of markings prior," Ms Dyason said.
"It will happen again, there will be another one.
"Owners come in here and tell me things and you see it on Facebook information pages all the time.
"There seems to be a sequence, but each year it appears to change... one year it was a red dot on the pavement, another year a white rock and another was black tape on letterboxes. There was a red vehicle involved in the last spate of dog thefts."
She said there was many rumours around town about the dog fighting ring.
"The rumour we have always heard is the nearest ring is up the back of the Gold Coast somewhere, while others say the dog ring is operating locally," she said.
"They apparently get the dogs from all over the place."
While Ms Dyason hadn't heard of anything "major" in a little while she said owners needed to be aware of the issue and if possible, keep their dogs in the back yard.
"Watch for people cruising the area slowly, in strange cars, dogs barking at night and unusual markings on house fences, gutters and letter boxes," she said.
"Also watch out for unusual cages on the back of cars with dog crates.
"We recommend pet owners join Lismore Lost and Found Pets Facebook page and Lost and Found pets Northern Rivers, so they can see what's going on and watch for any trending on types of dogs that are going missing.
"If anyone sees anything untoward or believe their dog was stolen for a dog fight, report it to the police.
Like other illegal blood sports, there is said to be "big money" involved in dog fighting. The "dog fighters" pick two dogs or more to fight one another to the death in a ring or pit for entertainment of spectators who would bet on on it.
"The ring is secret, the group is underground, Ms Dyason said.
"One dog will die, some will survive it but they will probably be used as a bait dog and be dead in a few months anyway.
"A bait dog is a dog that's used to teach or train a dog to fight. If you have a dog that's been trained to kill something, they will start with smaller dogs, because they don't want those dogs hurt, if that's going to be their prime fighting dog and people are betting on it.
"They don't want something that's going to fight back. They want something that will be killed and ripped apart."
She said they would also use cats and possums as baits and smaller dogs, then progress up to bigger dogs.
"People need to be careful, dogs that are given away on Facebook and Gumtree are supplying bait and fighting dogs ... it's a source of supply for these people," she said.
Richmond Police District crime prevention officer senior constable Dave Henderson said local police had not had any reports of any dogs been stolen or passed into dog fighting rings.