An Invercargill couple are devastated, confused and in shock after finding their beloved labrador dead on their lawn.

It's believed he was shot in their fully-fenced property.

The wife, who did not want to be named, said the 18-month-old dog, named Max, was fine when they left the house on Friday morning.

"My husband came home for lunch about one o'clock and [Max] was just his normal, happy, jumpy self."

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But when her husband returned from work about 5.30pm Max wasn't around.

"He was calling him and so he started looking for him and found him by our front gate."

The woman told the Herald she was out with her mother when her husband called to tell her what had happened.

"I didn't believe him at first. [Then] I just pretty much broke down. I was really, really sad. Now I'm at the point where I'm just really, really angry."

The distraught couple weren't sure how Max died until they took his body to the vet for an autopsy on Saturday morning and the vet found a bullet in his chest.

They were unsure what kind of gun was used to kill Max but the vet ruled out a BB gun and told them it would have been something high powered, the woman said.

"It had to be something like an air pistol."

The woman told the Herald she and her husband had no idea why someone would want to kill their friendly, playful pet who had been a part of their family since he was five weeks old and loved to "give kisses".

"We just can't comprehend how someone could do something like that to a dog that's sitting behind a fence not doing anything.

"He did have quite a good bark on him but all he does is just want to play. He just loves doing stuff with people. If someone came up to the fence he'd just be like 'ooh yay, a pat' because often people would walk past and pat him or something.

"We're just very lost. We don't understand why someone would want to hurt him. We don't have any issues, personal grievances, ourselves with anybody. No one ever complained about him."

Max's death has been reported to police and is being investigated. Photo / Supplied
Max's death has been reported to police and is being investigated. Photo / Supplied

She said Max's death had put the community on edge and she was now afraid to be in her own home because she is six months pregnant.

"Our neighbours next door told us they want to move. Our street is usually full of dogs but tonight you couldn't hear one. Their dogs have been locked inside."

The woman said she had reported the shooting to the police and the couple were waiting to get a full autopsy report on Monday.

She and her husband plan to bury Max at a family farm once his body is returned to them because he loved the pond there.

Police confirmed the incident was reported and they are investigating.

The woman posted what had happened to Facebook and dog lovers from all over New Zealand have now shared the post.

Furever Homes, a Southland charity which promotes animal welfare, has set up a Givealittle page for the couple.

Money raised will be go towards a reward for information about how Max died and be used to pay for his autopsy and cremation, the page states.