The family of a beloved pet dog have made a heartfelt plea for her return after the English staffy disappeared while they ate Christmas lunch.

Nine-year-old Evie hasn't been seen since she was left in the front yard of a Kohimarama home early yesterday afternoon, and her family believe their pooch has been stolen.

Family feared Evie could've been targeted by a dog-fighting ring because of her muscular appearance, Grace Taylor, the niece of Evie's devoted owner, Leigh Cole, said.

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But Evie was a gentle, loving dog who rarely left her owner's side, Taylor said.

"She adores my uncle. And she's so gorgeous. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body. She loves affection and attention."

The family searched for hours on foot and in vehicles after Evie was discovered missing from the property, which is on Melanesia Rd near the Long Drive end.

They'd also contacted Auckland Council but Evie, who is microchipped, hadn't been picked up by dog control, she said.

English staffy Evie, who is missing. Photo / Supplied
English staffy Evie, who is missing. Photo / Supplied

Police confirmed they'd been contacted and were assessing the complaint.

Evie had been a bit of an escape artist in the past, including last Christmas when she was spooked by a thunderstorm.

But the family believed this wasn't the case this time, she said.

They went to police because a neighbour told them he'd seen a man in a black SUV pull up and put a small black dog on a lead and into the SUV before driving away, Taylor said.

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"We're assuming this is Evie as our other two dogs [on the lawn with Evie] are honey and ginger-coloured. Evie is black/brown in colour, with a golden tiger brindle coat and on the smaller side for a staffy.

"Our other two dogs are both poodle-crosses and were not taken. This seems to be some sort of indication to us that Evie could have been taken for dog fighting purposes."

The lawn was surrounded by hedging with no way to see in unless you came onto the property, she said.

"There is no way to know that we were keeping our dogs on this lawn due to the privacy [of the] hedging, so we believe whoever this is saw the dogs being kept here earlier in the day, and came back with the lead."

The family, who are offering an undisclosed reward for Evie's return, had posted about her disappearance on Facebook pets' lost and found pages, and on Trade Me, Taylor said.

Leigh Cole and Evie are devoted to each other. Evie disappeared on Christmas Day and the family fear she was stolen. Photo / Supplied
Leigh Cole and Evie are devoted to each other. Evie disappeared on Christmas Day and the family fear she was stolen. Photo / Supplied

The loss had been particularly devastating for her uncle, as he didn't have kids and treated Evie "as if she were his flesh and blood".

"This has been a tragedy for our family and has ruined our Christmas celebrations. We are hoping with our whole hearts that this is just temporary.

"Please help us in getting our Evie back."

• Anyone with information can contact Leigh Cole on 021 664 356.