The Stewart family, Darryl, Lachlan, Angus and Fiona cremate their Maremma Draco, the fifth dog to die on their Mungar property within a couple of weeks.
The Stewart family, Darryl, Lachlan, Angus and Fiona cremate their Maremma Draco, the fifth dog to die on their Mungar property within a couple of weeks. Karleila Thomsen

Flames of anguish

POLICE have been called in to investigate the mysterious death of five dogs on a Mungar property.

Although autopsy reports are still to be completed it's thought the dogs may have been baited with strychnine.

The owner of the dogs, Darryl Stewart, is convinced the deaths of the dogs were not accidents.

The latest victim was found near the Stewart's house on Monday morning.

Two days before, Mr Stewart found another dog that had gone missing the previous weekend.

“It was under a bush near the river. It had obviously been dead about a week,” he said.

Four maremma stock guardian dogs and the family's pet kelpie have now died mysteriously in less than two weeks.

“I'm disturbed and starting to get concerned that there's some sort of maniac around,” Mr Stewart said.

“If someone is going to do this to a dog then where does it escalate from there. We have kids who ride past our front gate and people who walk their dogs up the road.

“I'm pretty certain this is being done deliberately and the quicker this person is stopped, the better.”

Mr Stewart's nine-year-old son, Angus, watched kelpie Gypsy convulse to death last weekend, just minutes after the family found two of their maremmas dead near the front gate.

The latest dog to die, Draco, belonged to 13-year-old son, Lachlan.

“He raised her since she was a puppy,” mother Fiona Stewart said.

“It is very difficult.

“The dogs have done nothing wrong.

“We as adults can handle it but to see the kids in pain – that makes me really angry.”

Yesterday afternoon both boys helped build a funeral pyre so the dog could be cremated.

“You have to destroy the carcasses if there's any chance there's strychnine in them,” Mr Stewart said.

“The poison remains in the food chain, otherwise, and other animals can die from it.

“I've called the police again and they are investigating.

“We're looking at well over $3000 in monetary cost but that's not my major concern. It's the emotional cost that's worse, and the question of what's next.”



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