dog gone

By MIKARLA THURECHT ? STAFFORDSHIRE terriers are mysteriously disappearing across the Rockhampton region.

Five have been reported missing in recent weeks, including a Gladstone Staffy that was found with its throat cut.

Only one of the remaining four Staffies ever made it home to be reunited with its owners.

Now the owners of the missing pets are issuing a plea for the safe return of their beloved dogs, although they believe their pooches are more than just lost.

The owners are speculating that their staffies may have been stolen for illegal dog fighting and pig hunting.

Ashleigh Sainsbury's sixmonth-old Staffy Dot went missing more than six weeks ago.

The North Rockhampton resident is adamant she was stolen and he's prepared to do whatever it takes to get her back.

Ashleigh said Dot was always by his side until the day she went missing.

"I let her out of my sight for 15 minutes. I thought she was beside me. But all there was was an empty beer can where she had been,'' Ashleigh said.

"It's all very suspicious.''

Ashleigh has been running advertisements every week since Dot disappeared and has even offered a noquestions-asked $1000 reward.

Dot was taken from the Berserker Street area and would be six months old.

Mark Hixon, of North Rockhampton, is also dealing with the loss of his three-year-old Staffy Mac.

Mac disappeared more than two weeks ago from Frenchville. Mark believes his dog was stolen and was losing hope that he would ever see him again.

?"I think we've realised he's gone. I just hope he got stolen to a good home,'' Mark said. Mark said his brother, who also lives in Rockhampton, had had a few Staffies stolen over the years and even fewer returned. He said his worst fear was that Mac had been used as a pigging dog.

Karen Hobbs and Brian Tamke, of Rockhampton, are also suspicious about the disappearance of their Staffy Bonnie last Saturday.

Karen believes Bonnie, 6, was stolen because their second dog, a chihuahua, was still at home.

"If she'd snuck out, they would have been together. They usually go everywhere together. Our little dog is really fretting,'' she said.

Karen said the hardest part about losing Bonnie was not knowing.

"If she's with someone with kids in a family that's okay. I just hope she's in a good home.''

Meanwhile, Rockhampton's Bianca Rituper has been caring for a lost Staffy, now named Daisy, after finding her two months ago.

Daisy was in good condition when found in the Rockonia Road area, but is now looking for a home as Bianca already has two dogs: "She's a lovely dog.

"I'd keep her if I could.''

n Can you help these people? Contact Ashleigh Sainsbury on 0419?712?611, Mark Hixon on 0409?894?966, Karen Hobbs on 0419?750?813 and Bianca Rituper on 0417?191?529.

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