Dog-killing link feared in oil row

By Christine McKay

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Ormondville dairy farmer Danielle White has said she wants to keep emotion out of the debate over oil exploration and fracking in the Tararua.

But already there are suggestions things have turned ugly after the brutal slaying of a family pet at Weber recently.

Dannevirke police were left sick to the stomach by what they say was a cowardly attack on a small, defenceless dog at Mangatuna Rd, Weber, on June 9.

"The owner found her beloved pet, a jack russell, dead on the deck of her house.

"The little dog had had its throat cut, which is horrendous," said Senior Sergeant Sue Leach of the Dannevirke police.

Mrs Leach said she couldn't believe anyone could be so cruel to such a small animal.

"This is probably one of the worst things I have heard of and to cut the dog's throat and then leave it right there for the owner to find is a despicable thing to do.

The owner is absolutely devastated," Mrs Leach said.

She could not confirm if there was a link between the attack on the 14-year-old dog and the issue of oil exploration but police were investigating.

"If anyone in the anti-fracking sector has heard anything as to why the dog was killed, or who was involved, then please report it to the police," she said.

"Taking this kind of action isn't going to help anyone's cause."

The Weber property owners have reportedly withdrawn from negotiations with the TAG Oil/Apache consortium but the company has applied for resource consent for two sites east of Dannevirke at Ngaperuru.

"Everyone in that district is supportive of each other," Mrs Leach said. "They're a close-knit community."

Porangahua's Haana Wilcox, who has been at the forefront of the oil exploration in her district, said she too had heard of the allegations of a link between the death of the dog and oil exploration but, after discussing the issue with a Weber farmer, did not believe there was a connection.

"The farmer, who doesn't want a public profile, has said he knows all the farmers on the road and he doesn't think anyone would do something like that," she said.

"It's an example of the ghastly stuff which happens when an issue like this comes into a community which hasn't been fully informed. People form opinions, often without a lot of information, and fear and division grows.

"Community and family conflict is a reality around issues like this and it's something we need to look closely at."

Meanwhile, Ms White is going ahead with plans for a public meeting on Saturday in Dannevirke to discuss oil exploration in the Tararua and said so far she had encountered mixed reaction to the possibility of a joint consortium of TAG Oil and Apache Corporation being granted resource consents in the district.

"I don't agree with oil exploration and it seems pretty easy for those pro-exploration to point to hyped or unbalanced views," she said.

"I've been listening to people's feedback, their worries and what the oil companies are saying, and trying to find a balance and help educate."

Ms White said she went to public meetings in Porangahau to learn about the issues surrounding oil exploration.

"After listening to landowners and what speakers were saying, I now fear oil exploration coming closer to home," she said.

"Here in the Dannevirke district we've a lot of limestone country which is fragile, with fissures everywhere and our underground aquifers are quite shallow."

Ms White said she realised the issue of oil exploration was controversial.

"I also know it's really hard for the average Joe Blogg to get accurate and credible information. It doesn't come from Google or YouTube either."

However, she appreciates landowners' privacy.

"Personally, I would be so offended and upset if people approached me and tried to force their opinions on me.

"My main goal is get landowners throughout the district talking to each other about oil exploration in a fully informed way," she said.

"The least I can do is help educate people and that's the reason behind Saturday's public meeting."

Dannevirke police would like to hear from anyone who may have seen or heard anything unusual or suspicious at Mangatuna Rd, Weber, on June 9. Contact Dannevirke police on 374 4500 or call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

A public meeting on oil exploration in the Tararua will be held from 1-3pm on Saturday, at The Hub in Allardice St, Dannevirke; entrance off Allardice St. Afternoon tea will be provided.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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