Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Fireworks spark $1000 search for missing dog, with Olympian Eric Murray in tow

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Olympic gold medal winner Eric Murray has been called in to help track down a scared little dog which fled during a Tauranga fireworks show that has since come under fire online.

A $1000 reward is on offer for anyone who can help reunite Harry the dog with his Cambridge owners Sharon and Gary Robertson who are Murray's parents-in-law.

The Robertsons and Harry had been visiting family in Miles Lane on Friday when the boom and blasts from fireworks from Bethlehem College frightened the shitzu-cross to such a point, it ran off and hasn't been seen since, Sharon's sister Rochelle Carter said.

The fireworks were part of a fundraising evening for the school's PTA but Ms Carter was critical at the lack of warning for some people. Others who did not know about the event expressed their disgust on social media, saying the noises could be heard as far as Pyes Pa, and that it was distressing to animals.

The school said it did do a letterbox drop but recognised that had not been enough and had since apologised.

Ms Carter described Harry, which has a tag that reads ''cats suck'', as ''pretty timid''.

Harry the shitzu-cross became frightened when fireworks were let off in Bethlehem on Friday and ran off. He hasn't been seen since, much to the heartbreak of his owners who are offering at $1000 reward.
Harry the shitzu-cross became frightened when fireworks were let off in Bethlehem on Friday and ran off. He hasn't been seen since, much to the heartbreak of his owners who are offering at $1000 reward.

''He's not one to run up to people. He's not very old. He's never really been away. He's got his friend Ben, his brother. He usually is his security when they're together. He won't know the area either.''

Search parties have spent their days scouring through the streets in and around Miles Lane, where Harry when missing. Flyers were also handed out at Bethlehem Town Centre.

Murray often babysits Harry, who belongs to his parents-in-law.

''It's a bit of a shame. Poor little bugger,'' he said.

Murray said there were concerns for Harry, who isn't from Tauranga and would not be familiar with his surroundings at all.

''He wouldn't know where the hell to go. He'd be fine in Cambridge. It's just so unfortunate, that's why we are helping.''

Murray was joined by wife Jackie and their dog Goo, with hopes Harry might recognise a friendly bark or call.

Bethlehem College PTA chair Vikki Tweed said it had done everything by the book, including a letterbox drop to all homes in the neighbourhood and liaising with Tauranga City Council, but was sorry the fireworks had caused so much upset.

''I think we had a lot of cloud cover which probably made it a bit louder but all I can do is absolutely apologise to everybody.

''We did what we thought was necessary. That was something we just didn't anticipate - how far the sound was going to go.''

Mrs Tweed was heartbroken to hear of Harry's plight.

"I sincerely hope they get their dog back. We had no idea it was going to be so loud. We did what we thought was reasonable at the time. It's something we will have to look at next year,'' Mrs Tweed said.

Bethlehem College principal Eoin Crosbie said he was really sorry for what happened and would be doing whatever he could to put it right for the owner of the dog.

"We will be learning from this and doing it better next time."

He said the letterbox drop by the PTA had obviously not been enough public notification of the out-of-season fireworks display that followed a film evening for students, with the low cloud cover not helping.

"It obviously caught the wider community by surprise. We were not trying to cause problems...I can only apologise for what happened."

Mr Crosbie became aware of what happened after arriving home from an out-of-town wedding last night and said he intended to get in touch with the dog owner.

Facebook comments

Penny Flatt posted:'' . . . They could be heard far and wide and were really distressing to so many domestic animals without the thought for farm animals in the area, people have also lost their pets running away distressed because of your terribly bad decision.''

Bridgette Tolfrey posted: ''Not impressed by lack of communication made by Bethlehem College with regards to "Film & Fireworks Evening" definately [sic] commercial grade and obviously a lot of people far & wide had concerns with their young children & pets!! I live in Pyes Pa and thought it was very close . . . all the dogs in my neighbourhood were going off!!''

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