A desperate family whose beloved pooch became lost in thick bush after another dog attacked it have raised more than $5000 to pay for a helicopter search.
Some searchers have been pulling 18-hour shifts to help look for missing cavoodle Lucas, who was walking with his owner in Lower Hutt on Friday when another loose dog suddenly attacked him.
Friend and Hutt City councillor Campbell Barry has set up a Givealittle page to raise money for a helicopter with thermal cameras to search the bush around Moores Valley in Wainuiomata.
The page was set up this morning and has already raised at least $5280 - including one donation of $2035. The target was $4000.
"We've had people doing up to 18-hour shifts searching steep and difficult terrain in the Moores Valley area," Barry told the Herald.
One group had searched from 7am until 1-2am the next day over the weekend.
About 100 people have been involved in the search so far, but at least 100 more have helped in other ways - dropping off pizzas and other items, supplying a portaloo, and bringing in a Weber to cook for volunteers.
"There's been a huge amount of commitment from people on this," Barry said.
While some helpers were friends and family of the owners, others had simply heard about Lucas on Facebook.
The local fire brigade has helped, and people have been bringing in thermal cameras and drones to search for Lucas.
"What has given us hope is that a number of people have heard yelps," Barry said.
The last yelp was heard about 10pm yesterday by a number of people.
"So we think we can hear him but we just can't find him. Unfortunately he just seems to yelp once."
There are fears Lucas is injured, and that his harness and lead may have snagged on something, trapping him.
The owners are "pretty devastated" but also "blown away" by the response from the community.
"There are a heck of a lot of good people out there."
Thanks to the quick response on the Givealittle page, the family have been able to confirm and book a helicopter, and are waiting for the weather to clear to get the chopper in the air.
It's hoped the helicopter search will begin in the next few hours.
The money will go towards the cost of a helicopter to search the area with thermal cameras, for up to two hours. Any funds left over will go to any bills Lucas or the family may have.