Mystery in Dunedin as guinea pigs, rabbits vanish

Guinea pig generic (Getty)
Photo credit: Getty / file

A Dunedin community is on high alert after several rabbits and guinea pigs were kidnapped.

While most of the pets are still missing, some have since been found in a grim state.

Glenleith resident Rachel Pettigrew's guinea pig Thomas vanished on Sunday night, with his hutch disappearing too. She told Newshub it probably would have taken two people to carry it away.

"The kids were really sad and we totally confused about this and feeling a bit uneasy, and just wanting our wee piggy back."

Her daughter found Thomas on Tuesday morning huddled on top of their sandpit, and Ms Pettigrew suspects he was put there deliberately rather than making his way there on his own.

"There was no way that he could have climbed up there himself and after all, guinea pigs don't like to search out exposed places either," she said.

"We were feeling kind of weird, has someone come and brought him back? Has someone been back to our place in the night?"

Thomas the stolen guinea pig (Rachel Pettigrew / supplied)
Thomas was returned so badly injured, he has to be put to sleep. Photo credit: Rachel Pettigrew / supplied

After taking him to the vet, they discovered Thomas' eye had ruptured and there was severe swelling on his back.

On Thursday afternoon he was set to be euthanised due to the severity of his injuries.

"We just can't think why would anyone want to do that," Ms Pettigrew said.

"The kids are really upset, but we're also super grateful that we've had to opportunity to have this last day with him and be able to give him lots of love before he goes to sleep."

Thomas isn't the only Dunedin pet to have been rediscovered badly injured.

In Māori Hill a rabbit was found returned next to its hutch, with blood coming from its nose. It also had injuries to its eye and had already succumbed to its wounds.

Another rabbit was also found in the area with the same injuries, Newshub has been told.

"It's devastating enough that it's children's pets being taken and harmed, but it's not okay for people to trespass and really, these are burglaries," Ms Pettigrew said.

Jan Liggins, who runs one of the Dunedin Lost and Found Pets Facebook pages, found the sudden disappearances incredibly unusual.

Usually she receives posts about missing cats or dogs. Rabbits are rarer, while guinea pigs are almost unheard of.

Then she woke up on Monday morning to half a dozen posts reporting missing guinea pigs or rabbits.

"For overnight, to have that many? That was definitely noticeable," she told Newshub.

"I think the concern that members of the group are noticing now is why? They're hoping that whoever is taking these pets aren't using them for nefarious purposes, that wherever they are they are being well cared for."

Dunedin are investigating the thefts, and have asked people to take extra care to keep their little pets safe.

"Think about padlocking hutches, using CCTV cameras and sensor lights if you can," Southern District police wrote on Facebook.

"Also, note down registrations of any suspicious vehicles near your home, as burglars may scope out a place beforehand."

Anyone with information or who saw anything suspicious is urged to contact Dunedin police on (03) 471 4800.

Ms Pettigrew is worried about the kind of person who may have stolen and injured the animals in such a way.

"We're not angry, we're just sad," she said.

"I'd like to get them some help really, I think they must be quite disturbed if this is the kind of thing you're doing."