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A North Shore family say they are distraught to learn that the dog uplifted from their home by armed police will not be coming back to them after the original owner vowed to keep the animal and train it as a hunting companion.
The dog, known to Sam Duncan and his family as Ziggy, was removed from their home last week after a microchip scan in April had revealed her to be stolen.
Duncan explained to the Herald that he was not involved in any theft but had purchased the animal from an acquaintance after seeing she was in poor condition and after his then 6-year-old daughter bonded with her. She had spent six years with the family, forming a strong bond with Duncan’s daughter – who told the Herald that losing her pet was “the worst pain I have ever felt”.
After the dog was taken by Police, Duncan told the Herald: “I just want to know what I can do to get my dog back” and said he was willing to pay reparations to the original owner.
‘It’s a hunting dog’
When the Herald tracked down the dog’s original owner he was unmoved.
The man, who knows the animal as Tui, said the German shorthaired pointer’s years-long absence had caused him “pain and suffering” and cost him $2000 to replace because she was purchased to be a companion for game bird hunting.
He said she was stolen on the eve of the hunting season when she was still a puppy and he had lost two hunting seasons in the process of replacing her and training another dog, adding he had waited 18 months for her only for her to be stolen from outside a property in Onehunga in the time it took for him to have a shower inside.
He told the Herald she had been untied and stolen just before he travelled to a property he owns in the central North Island and he had spent five hours that night scouring the streets and then years wondering what had happened to his dog.
He revealed that despite the time elapsed the dog still knew her way around his North Shore home but said he was concerned by the state she was in, claiming she was in “lousy condition” when she was returned, saying: “It really is fat”.
“It’s a hunting dog, the poor thing,” he told the Herald, saying that he planned on taking the dog to the vet to be checked out because he was concerned she might even be pregnant.
Sam Duncan told the Herald that pregnancy was impossible, saying she had not been around any potential mates and was last in heat around 6 weeks ago.
He was unwilling to speak with Duncan or enter into any mediation, saying he did not have “the slightest interest” and believed that Duncan should face legal repercussions for not attempting to register the dog.
He said the dog was the exact breed he had been looking for and was “absolutely identical” to another he once owned that was an excellent hunting companion.
He acknowledged that the SPCA had been called to his home over a noise complaint since the dog returned and was given a bed under the house.
“It’s barking at night of course because it’s used to sitting on couches by the look of it because every time you turn your back it gets on a couch.”
“It won’t be a house dog for long,” the man vowed.
He said he was going to take the dog down this weekend to the property he owns in the central North Island and take her to a bivouac he has in the bush.
“It’ll have to run along the 6km bush track to my bivouac and we’ll see how it goes.”
Asked whether that was in the best interest of the dog, the original owner was unequivocal.
“Absolutely, that’s what it was bred for. It’s not bred to sit in the house.”
‘Constantly been my shadow’
Sam Duncan told the Herald that the last few days have been tough on his family, saying they all missed the dog intensely.
“She has constantly been my shadow for the last 6 years, every time I go to walk outside she was right there,” Duncan said.
“She bounces round like a Tigger in a zig-zag especially through any long grass while she explores and that’s partly how she got her name. She has been my best friend and a valued member of our family and we all want her to come home.
“I just can’t work out why Ziggy’s best interests are being considered,” he said. “She must be scared and upset.”
He shared a note from his 12-year-old daughter Skye, who wrote that she wanted the dog “home where she belongs”.
“She means the world to me,” Skye wrote. “Losing her is the worst pain I have ever felt, I miss my puppy so much.”
Asked if the dog’s bond with Duncan’s daughter might sway his decision, the original owner argued that his partner’s granddaughter has bonded with the dog when it was a puppy and was aged 6 when she was stolen – the same age as Duncan’s daughter when she first met the animal.
Duncan’s partner Lily Anderson said she could “see the heartbreak written all over” him. She said the family’s other dog Xyla had also been missing her mate.
“The entire atmosphere of the house has changed. Suddenly something small triggers a memory; the two leads clipped together from our last walk, Ziggy’s bowl filled with rain instead of food – and I’m crying again.
She pleaded for those in authority to show more humanity in the case, saying: “Just because something is legal, that doesn’t make it just.”
The Herald put the family’s case to the original owner, who said he would only consider giving up the dog if she proved to be unsuitable for hunting but thought she would be “fantastic” because she was now in her “prime”.
The family are considering legal action.
Microchipping and registration of dogs
Elly Waitoa, manager of Animal Management for Auckland Council, offered advice to dog owners on their responsibilities under the law.
Waitoa reminded dog owners that registration and microchipping are legal requirements of dog ownership under the Dog Control Act and owners who do not comply can face conviction and fines of up $3000.
“This particular case is a prime example of the importance of these requirements and ensuring contact details are all correct and up to date,” Waitoa told the Herald.
“Auckland Council will try every avenue to reunite dog owners with their much-loved pets but unfortunately, we do rely on the owners to fulfil their obligations and make this process as smooth as possible.”