Reports of cats being mauled by dogs in Matua and others missing are being investigated by the Tauranga City Council. The suspect dogs are still on the loose. Sandra Conchie reports.
Pet owners in Matua say they're living in fear after a series of dog attacks that have left a number of cats in the area either dead or reported missing.
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They are now calling on the Tauranga City Council to take urgent action after their pets were savaged on Sunday night or early Monday morning.
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Herons Ave resident Annelise Kachelhoffer's cat, Lexy, was killed while the family was out of town for several days.
"I cannot begin to tell you how sad and devastated our family is. We have had Lexy for 14 years since he was rescued as a little kitten in United Arab Emirates' capital, Abu Dhabi. "
A heartbroken Kachelhoffer told the Bay of Plenty Times Lexy was found mauled to death on their driveway on Monday morning by a man who told her his cat had also been killed in the Matua area.
"There are lots of people in the Matua community who are really upset and we're all hurting," she said. "Something has to be done about this as it could be someone's child next time."
A Levers Rd family, who asked not to be named, said they were woken about 4am on December 23 by the noise of excited dogs barking on their driveway and also heard their 7-year-old cat Marley's terrified screams.
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One family member said she saw Marley being attacked and could identify the three dogs.
"But we have been told that because we didn't follow the dogs back to where they live, it does not prove anything," she said.
"That's an impossible request at 4am in the morning," the young woman's father said.
His distraught wife said because of the frenzied nature of the attack they were "too scared" to go outside to rescue their pet, fearing they would also be mauled.
"It was horrendous, and the sound of Marley screaming is something I'll never forget," she said.
Several residents, who posted comments on the Matua Community Group Facebook page, expressed concerns that their missing cats may have also been attacked by dogs.
Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell said the council's dog control staff and police were trying to locate the dogs, believed to be pitbulls, and needed the community's help.
"I became aware of these attacks late Monday night after I came home from an event and I immediately asked the council's animal services staff to call the police.
"Police and the council's senior dog control officer have been out there searching for these dogs without success," he said.
"It's just terrible to think of three pitbulls are on the loose and we know they are making their way around the Matua salt marshes, so they have got a large roaming area.
"I was sent photos of mauled cats and they're just horrendous. I fully appreciate pet owners in the Matua community are distraught and angry, and understandably so."
Powell said unfortunately it would not be easy to find the dogs.
"I'm very concerned, as obviously these dogs are very dangerous animals. Clearly, it appears these pitbulls are hunting in a pack, and I hate to think that it could be a person or a child that is mauled next time," he said.
Powell said DNA bite swab samples had been taken from the dead cats which can be used to help identify the dogs responsible for these attacks.
"We also need Matua residents to become our eyes and ears, and if anyone sees these pitbulls they should immediately call animal control or the police," he said.
Brent Lincoln, the head of the council's animal services team, said so far the council had received complaints about three cats being killed in the Matua area, plus he had also heard about a fourth cat killed but had no details.
"I can also confirm that the council is taking this matter very seriously, and we are investigating these complaints and gathering evidence.
"For the council to seize a dog after an attack, we must have the evidential standard required by the court," Lincoln said.