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Dogfighting in the region: is it happening and what can we do?

By Alexandra Craig - 11 November 2014 23

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I have an unhealthy obsession with community Facebook pages. I rarely post on them but I’m a member of what seems like a million of them: Canberra Buy Swap Sell, Queanbeyan Buy Swap Sell, Canberra Mums (I have no children unless you count cats), MyGungahlin (I don’t even live in Gungahlin), and the list goes on.

A month or two ago posts started appearing from people living in various parts of Canberra and Queanbeyan warning others about the possibility of dogs being stolen from front and back yards. Many residents were reporting finding small markings, sometimes chalk, spray paint or even a ribbon tied to a tree branch or letterbox, outside their home. The marking was usually on their driveway.

These people say they had discovered the markings after their beloved pet dog had gone missing, presumably stolen.

One person says she found a cross spray painted on the back side of her back fence (obviously not visible from her house) after she came home one day and came across an unidentified man in her backyard who quickly fled the scene. The homeowner strongly believes this man was trying to steal her dog.

Many people reporting missing dogs or strange markings on their property strongly believe that this is all connected to an illegal dogfighting ring here in Canberra. It’s been suggested that this horrible activity is taking place in a warehouse in Fyshwick.

The thought of your beloved pet being used to fight to the death for profit is horrifying and completely terrifying; people are asking why the police aren’t doing anything about it.

The problem it seems is lack of evidence. ACT Policing put out a statement last week saying: “There is no substantiated evidence that this kind of dog theft is prevalent in the ACT”, and have asked people to report their missing animals to TAMS and to the RSPCA.

Their response angered quite a few people whose dogs have gone missing, with many pointing to the markings left on their properties as “evidence”. Some residents are calling for the police to take samples of the spray paint/chalk left behind to establish if they have all come from the same batch.

I have mixed feelings about this issue. On one hand I think about how angry, scared and upset I would be if I thought my dog had been stolen for such a malicious activity and I would expect the police to do something about it as soon as possible, especially since so many other people are coming forward about their own experiences. On the other hand, I know issues like this are incredibly hard for the police to manage, especially when there’s not a clear and consistent pattern in dogs going missing. From what I have seen, the majority of the dogs that have been reported missing are from Ngunnawal, Kambah and Karabar in Queanbeyan. All very different areas. Although this dogfighting ring has been alleged to be taking place in Fyshwick, I understand that it would be difficult for police to investigate because they don’t really have any particular person or even vehicle to be keeping an eye out for. They can’t go barging in to every building in Fyshwick to check things out either.

Plenty of people online are suggesting this is a hoax which, even if true, is not comforting to people with missing dogs and generally just enrages the debate to a higher level. I really feel for people who have lost their dogs in any circumstance; innocent or sinister. They have every right to be upset.

Until the police can/will do anything further, it’s probably best for dog owners to remain vigilant. Ensure the fencing around your home is secure, keep your dogs in the back yard (or inside, where possible) so it lessens the chance of them being seen from the street. Some people are even investing in having cameras installed around their house so they have vision of any suspicious activity. If you see anything, report it straight away to the police and the RSPCA.

If your dog goes missing you can report it to TAMS here

and to the RSPCA here

What’s Your opinion?


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23 Responses to
Dogfighting in the region: is it happening and what can we do?
Alexandra Craig 9:16 am 12 Nov 14

Truffle56 said :

This doesn’t sound like an urban legend. Whether it is related to dog fighting or not doesn’t really matter – there are some evil people out there.
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/dog-fighting-ring-steals-alfie-the-kelpielabrador-cross-from-sunshine-home-for-brutal-battle/story-fni0fee2-1227110162557?nk=48b9acf9042fe734c48ae65416947fed

I agree. Even if dogs aren’t being stolen for dogfighting, some people are incredibly messed up and do horrible things. Plenty of people with nothing better to do open gates and let dogs out, the dogs then go missing or get hit by a car.

Or as one of the commenters said, purebred dogs can be stolen as they can be sold for a high price. This definitely happens. Recently I saw a video taken from someone’s security camera at their house. In broad daylight, an unidentified man walks up to the house, takes the dog and drives off with it. Obviously this could be a set up, but a quick look at the poster’s Facebook page showed that they were running an extremely active campaign to get their dog back.

Whether the posts about dogfighting or videos of purebred dogs being taken are hoaxes or not, if just one person puts a lock on their gate or keeps their dog inside at night because they’ve seen warnings online, then that’s a good thing.

Pet owners should love their furry friends unconditionally and should be completely committed to ensuring their safety, no matter what the circumstance.

Alexandra Craig 9:07 am 12 Nov 14

Lazy I said :

Not sure about dog fighting, but apparently the trendy thing among hipsters these days are bonsai kittens, so their popularity is booming.

OMG… what is a bonsai kitten?! It sounds like something I need in my life.

dkNigs 8:26 am 12 Nov 14

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

This hoax has been on Facebook for a couple of years now. Started in the uk.

Why would they put a marker on the property and not just go steal the dog then and there?

Why would you drive around slowly with a van full of barking dogs looking for places to hit when you could scout first and know where to hit while being able to get out of there quicker?

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 6:56 am 12 Nov 14

This hoax has been on Facebook for a couple of years now. Started in the uk.

Why would they put a marker on the property and not just go steal the dog then and there?

Truffle56 11:37 pm 11 Nov 14

This doesn’t sound like an urban legend. Whether it is related to dog fighting or not doesn’t really matter – there are some evil people out there.
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/dog-fighting-ring-steals-alfie-the-kelpielabrador-cross-from-sunshine-home-for-brutal-battle/story-fni0fee2-1227110162557?nk=48b9acf9042fe734c48ae65416947fed

Lazy I 9:45 pm 11 Nov 14

Not sure about dog fighting, but apparently the trendy thing among hipsters these days are bonsai kittens, so their popularity is booming.

chewy14 7:47 pm 11 Nov 14

justin heywood said :

Tooks said :

No confirmed police reports of dog thefts whatsoever, as far as I’m aware. Just a bunch of urban legends being spread via social media. The blue markings are a hoax of some kind.

Yep, I agree. Urban legend/hoax. There was a remarkably similar report in the Nimbin Good Times earlier this year.

Same deal – unconfirmed reports of coloured paint markings and symbols, anecdotal reports of dogs stolen, randoms claiming to know what the symbols meant etc.

If it is a joke it’s not a very funny one.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/south-east/police-hunt-suspicious-car-after-residents-report-dog-theft-concerns-in-casey/story-fngnvmhm-1226831528270

Its amazing how many times this exact thing comes up. Sure there may be some dogs stolen in Australia for dog fighting but the Facebook hype and stated prevalence is way, way over the top.

Tooks 5:23 pm 11 Nov 14

peebus said :

Tooks said :

No confirmed police reports of dog thefts whatsoever, as far as I’m aware. Just a bunch of urban legends being spread via social media. The blue markings are a hoax of some kind.

Sounds like you know something more than the rest of us… Care to share?

Nope. But if you can find anyone in this city who has made a report of a stolen dog I’d be interested to know.

justin heywood 5:16 pm 11 Nov 14

Tooks said :

No confirmed police reports of dog thefts whatsoever, as far as I’m aware. Just a bunch of urban legends being spread via social media. The blue markings are a hoax of some kind.

Yep, I agree. Urban legend/hoax. There was a remarkably similar report in the Nimbin Good Times earlier this year.

Same deal – unconfirmed reports of coloured paint markings and symbols, anecdotal reports of dogs stolen, randoms claiming to know what the symbols meant etc.

If it is a joke it’s not a very funny one.

Evilomlap 5:02 pm 11 Nov 14

As always a thoughtful post Alexandra, but your mistake is believing sh@t you read on facebook. Dog theft hoaxes have been around for a while. I don’t doubt some dogs have gone missing, but dogs are more likely to be stolen if they are purebreds that will fetch a nice price online, not to be pitted against each other in some shadowy warehouse in an industrial area.

JazzyJess 3:55 pm 11 Nov 14

I am deeply worried as I live in Gunners and have a Bull Arab. Been keeping her inside at night as a precaution. I don’t know anyone personally whose dog has been stolen but I know of a few people including the family whose Boerboels are still missing. I think the comments from the RSPCA were pretty unhelpful, v. dismissive.

stormboy 1:37 pm 11 Nov 14

I have heard the same anecdotal reports.

Surveyors and service locators use spray paint and survey tape (ribbon) to mark all sorts of things. I have a squirt of blue paint on my driveway and a purebred Rotti in the back yard. The blue paint highlights a Mickey pin used as a reference mark for a house extension across the road. The Rotti highlights a place not f#ck with.

peebus 1:22 pm 11 Nov 14

Tooks said :

No confirmed police reports of dog thefts whatsoever, as far as I’m aware. Just a bunch of urban legends being spread via social media. The blue markings are a hoax of some kind.

Sounds like you know something more than the rest of us… Care to share?

Antagonist 1:20 pm 11 Nov 14

I have heard of this one too. A close family friend with Pitties claims to have spent many hours removing a blue marking from his driveway in far-south Tuggeranong. Apparently it was quite a bit harder to remove than rattle-can paint. Do I believe him? Hard to say … but there is no harm in being a little bit paranoid about it.

Tooks 12:13 pm 11 Nov 14

No confirmed police reports of dog thefts whatsoever, as far as I’m aware. Just a bunch of urban legends being spread via social media. The blue markings are a hoax of some kind.

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