A rare and expensive puppy taken in broad daylight from a Levin house this week has still not been found, with fears he could be used by gangs for fighting.

A heart-felt plea for his safe return by the puppy's owner multiplied in a short time when a photograph was shared thousands of times all over New Zealand on social media.

Neighbours saw a man jump the back fence to the property in Levin's north-west on Tuesday afternoon before running out the front door with the puppy under his arm.

Witnesses said the man, wearing a red sweater, then jumped into a white Nissan which sped off down the road.


The dog's owner, Larraine Clark, posted a photo of T-Bone on social media with a plea for his return and asking the public for any information that would lead to the dog's return.

T-Bone was a Dogue de Bordeaux estimated to be worth $5000.

Social media soon exploded with photographs of the four-month old pup, as people concerned for its safety wanted to help find his captors.

Ms Clark was contacted by Horowhenua Chronicle but did not want to talk about her ordeal.

Levin Police were keen for any information about the theft but were also open to the possibility it was a civil matter and that the offender could be known to Ms Clark.

T-Bone was on loan to Ms Clark from Ashburton breeder Laura Kennedy, who was distraught to learn he was missing.

Ms Kennedy said she sent T-Bone north so that he could compete in North Island shows one day, in a co-owning arrangement with Ms Clark. He would be returned to her for breeding purposes.

T-Bone was her pride and joy and she described him as her best dog.


"I'm devastated. I can't really do much," she said. "I'm pretty speechless...stunned."

Ms Kennedy feared for T-Bone's safety as she said sometimes dogs were stolen and used by gangs for fighting.

She said Ms Clark had phoned her three days earlier concerned that she felt uneasy about someone hanging around her property, and was considering taken him into hiding.

"They're overgrown teddy bears. They look after you and are good family pets. They only look scary when they are fully grown," she said.

"It's got nothing to do with the money for me. I don't breed for the sake of breeding. They're not in kennels."

"But they are definitely trained to be a fighting dog in gangs, and that's what scares me."

T-Bone had not yet been micro-chipped although Ms Kennedy said she had DNA samples of both his mother and father, both champion show dogs.

Dogue de Bordeaux are said to have the largest head of any breed in the world, in proportion to the rest of their body. Fully grown males can weigh more than 50kg.

It is described as a well-balanced, muscular dog of powerful build. The breed went through a population explosion in the US after the release of cult movie Turner and Hooch in 1989, about a policeman and his canine partner, a Dogue de Bordeaux.

The breed originated in ancient France and was first exhibited in 1863, although it wasn't until the 1960s that numbers began to increase worldwide.

They were originally bred to pull heavy objects and guard the flocks and castles of the European elite.

As this edition of Horowhenua Chronicle went to print, T-Bone had not been found.