Nearly 10 years ago now we had the unfortunate experience of having our Bull Terrier X rescue dog named Bill, stolen from our yard. With a six foot fence and latched gates, fence buried in the ground, etc, there was no way a dog could get out without being taken out. Someone had unlatched the gate and taken both Bill and his brother Ben during the course of the night. These two dogs were very distinctive and well known in our small town on Queensland’s Darling Downs, so the word went out very quickly what had happened.
The next day Ben found his way home, without his collar, obviously exhausted and having run a long way…but no sign of his smaller brother, Bill. We had rescued both dogs several years beforehand to save them from being destroyed as part of an unwanted litter, and despite their hunting background were the most placid and well behaved dogs one could wish for. They were raised amongst what we called the world’s safest chickens, never seeing the chickens as prey (eggs were fair game, mind you!)
One of the places I rang was the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Regional Office in Toowoomba. The Officer I spoke to was very sympathetic, but when I described what happened to my dogs (including the breed), he became very interested indeed, He told me there had been a spate of thefts of such dogs in the region for the purposes of using them as “bait dogs” to train bigger dogs in fighting rings. I could not believe my ears. Apparently bikie gangs and other groups of undesirables ran such rings for “fun” and gambling. He asked me to send photos of Bill (which I did) so they could keep an eye out for him in subsequent raids on premises running such evil practises. Only a few days later I received a call from the same DPI Officer, stating they had raided a premises where they believed over 300 dogs(!) were involved at different times in this barbarity. The DPI seized all the dogs present at the time, but none matched the description of Bill. Unfortunately the Officer told me it was very likely he had already been killed if he was taken by such a group and that Ben must have somehow freed himself prior to arriving at the fighting ring’s location. Fast forward 10 years and I still get a chill when I think of that phone call and what must have happened to Bill, who has never been seen to this day. His (now elderly) brother Ben is 12 years old and has been a wonderful companion for our family.
The moral of this story is to keep your ears to the ground amongst the dog-owning community. If you hear the slightest hint of this sort of wickedness going on in your area, please contact the authorities immediately. It might be just a rumour you hear that amounts to nothing, but it also might lead to the lives of peoples’ best friends being saved.