Spike in city dognappings

2016-09-12 09:13
The missing Jack Russel Cathy is believed to be in the Woodlands area.

The missing Jack Russel Cathy is believed to be in the Woodlands area. (Supplied )

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Dog owners are warned to keep a close eye on their pets following a recent spate of dognappings in Pietermaritzburg.

This issue came to light after a year-old Jack Russell was stolen from its owner’s car, parked outside a city hospital recently.

The Pietermaritzburg Animal Rescue and Re-Home group said yesterday that there has been a spike in missing dogs around the city, particularly in the northern areas.

Chavonne Chetty, a founding member of the group, said that the dogs are being stolen so that they can be used for dog fighting.

She said the thieves also use the stolen dogs for ransom when the pet owners locate them.

“They know how much pet lovers are attached to their dogs,” Chetty said.

She said the thieves know that the owners will do anything to get their pets back.

Chetty said dog fighting had become a major problem and was a contributing factor in the upsurge of missing dogs.

“They steal any dog, even small dogs. They train them to become extremely vicious. Many recent cases involved pitbull dogs,” she said.

In the latest incident, Bright Sibisi’s dog Cathy was stolen from her car, allegedly by a street beggar, at a hospital parking lot.

Sibisi had briefly left the one-year-old Jack Russell in the car while she went to collect medication, and was dismayed to find her dog had disappeared when she returned.

“I was shocked to see my dog gone in such a short space of time. Immediately I started to ask around.”

A street person told her that the dog had been seized out of her car by white people. But the car had been locked.

She said the street person said that the white people had handed the dog to a notorious beggar in town known as Kevin. After opening a case at Loop Street police station, Sibisi carried on the hunt for Cathy herself, starting with a search for the notorious beggar.

“I would drive to West Street at night, asking about his whereabouts. We later discovered that he had changed his spot; he had apparently moved to Northdale.

“When I finally found him, with the help of my husband, we handed him over to the police. He confessed that he had sold the dog to someone from Woodlands in exchange for whoonga,” she said.

With the lead that the dog was sold to someone in Woodlands, Sibisi printed posters of the missing dog and pasted them up in the area. But she was only contacted by people who wanted money.

Chetty said her organisation helps people who do not know what to do when their pets are missing.

“We help owners find their pets. We advise them because these thieves take advantage and demand money from them. Some people also pretend to know about the whereabouts of the pet, while they just want money.

“It is a very serious problem. I hope someone from the law enforcement who is passionate about animals could come on board and assist us to end this problem,” said Chetty.

Mountain Rise police station communications officer Warrant Officer Joshua Maistry said they take dog thefts very seriously.

“They are the owner’s property. If anyone steals someone’s dog, it is a crime and the police will investigate,” he said.

Maistry said people reporting dog thefts should provide a detailed description of the animal and possible leads to aid the investigation. A recent photograph of the dog would also help.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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