A Masterton couple are keeping a stick by the door and their 3-year-old foster daughter inside after a dog killed their beloved cat while attacking two teenagers.
Bill and Jocelyn Walker said they have reconciled with the death of their cat, Garfield, but have changed their home security routine as the pitbull dog is still on the loose, despite Masterton dog rangers setting a trap for the animal.
The Wairarapa Times-Age outlined the dog attack earlier this month on Kobe Pene, 16, and Chance Carlson, 15, which had left Chance with bite wounds.
The dog also had attacked and killed two cats, Jazz, which belonged to the aunty of one of the boys, and Garfield, which the Walkers had owned for about five years.
Mr Walker said the couple, who have fostered 14 children in the past decade, had shifted to their Johnstone St home from Wellington just over two years ago. The attack on the teenagers happened over their back fence.
He said Garfield was an exotic breed, red without any white like his namesake, that can bring up to $1400 at sale. However, the couple got him as a rescue cat for the cost of neutering and vaccination.
Garfield had been caged for most of his life and distrusted everybody at first, Mr Walker said. He had a buddy cat at his new home called Nermal (named after cartoon Garfield's feline friend) who also had since died.
Mrs Walker said Garfield had eventually settled and became fast friends with any foster children the couple brought home.
The couple buried Garfield in their garden and on Sunday their grand-daughter placed fresh flowers at his grave.
"Garfield was just so sweet and gentle. He used to put the kids instantly at ease. He really was a social worker cat," Mrs Walker said.
He also had a broad heroic streak that was probably his undoing when the teenagers were attacked.
"If they were calling for help, Garfield would have gone to help. He was like that," Mr Walker said.
Their half-ragdoll cat called Hairy Potter has inherited the job as comforter at their home but Garfield is sorely missed all the same.
"Yeah, I think curiosity got the cat. But the dog is still out there and we don't another attack on a child.
"That's why we keep our foster daughter and Hairy Potter inside with us," he said.
Mr Walker said the couple also had lost five hens at their property to a mystery dog about a year ago.
Masterton head dog ranger Malcolm Falk said yesterday he suspected the dog that attacked the teenagers and killed Garfield, had been taken from the area.
"We've searched high and low and found nothing that matches. But we're keeping our eyes peeled,"Mr Falk said.