ANIMAL lovers and local animal rescue groups are concerned that an underground dog fighting ring may be operating in the region, as more and more reports surface online of dog scoping and stealing.
Posts on Facebook warning dog owners have been growing - from photos of markings on fences that dog poachers allegedly use to plan thefts to descriptions of cars that have been acting suspiciously outside yards containing dogs.
Most recently, a post has been circulating warning dog owners in the region to beware of a late '90s red ute with Queensland plates that has been seen in Lismore, Goonellabah and Casino, slowly driving around, stopping to look over fences for dogs.
In one instance the ute was circling on one street looking at a number of dogs, but when a resident came out to investigate, the ute sped off.
While police said yesterday they'd had no recent reports alluding to a local ring, Barbara Steffensen, of Animal Rights and Rescue Northern Rivers, said that she believes there is an organised underground dog fighting ring in the area.
She said she's heard countless reports of dogs being stolen or being dumped at pounds with injuries that seem to be a result of dog fighting - she's even reported to police missing dogs that have been feared stolen.
Too many animals disappeared without any explanation.
From what she has heard and experienced, Ms Steffensen said she believes a dog fighting ring could be operating somewhere near Casino, as she knows of many dogs that have been dumped near there with horrible injuries.
"It's such a horrific, ugly business," Ms Steffensen said.
She advised all dog owners to keep their dogs out of sight from the road, or inside if possible, and for all people to look out for suspicious behaviour.
Police asked anyone with any information about dog fighting incidents in the region to contact them - phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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