THE colourful Sydney businessman Ian Lazar is used to dealing with threats. The lender of last resort has been bashed, sued, abused and now employs bodyguards to look out for him.
But now his enemies have hit Mr Lazar where it hurts most. Ten days ago four of his seven beloved pooches were kidnapped.
''They knew that my dogs are my kids. They get dressed every morning, have pyjamas and I fought for them in my divorce as one does with kids,'' Mr Lazar said yesterday.
The four lapdogs - Goldberg, a miniature poodle, Max, a Maltese terrier, and Bella and Lilly, Maltese shih-tzus - were taken from Mr Lazar's north shore home on July 21, between 4pm and 10pm.
He had since been approached ''through third parties to buy them back or their throats will be cut, one by one'', he said. Mr Lazar said that although he would ''rather die myself than see any pain or torment to my beautiful dogs,'' he was refusing to give into the demands, saying: ''They are never going to get a cent out of me.''
The dog snatchers are demanding $300,000 for the safe return of the four fluffy canines.
Last Saturday, when Mr Lazar demanded ''proof of life,'' he was sent a photo of his dogs cowering in a cage, with the front page of The Australian Financial Review showing Saturday's date.
''They've been watching too many movies,'' Mr Lazar said.
Mr Lazar, 39, believes he knows who the extortionists are. He said he had paid two men $1 million during the past year for business deals on which they claim to be owed money. They had demanded $3 million.
Recently he said he refused to pay any further. ''That's when they took my dogs,'' he said. Mr Lazar, a former bankrupt, provides loans to people who are unable to get loans from a big financial institution.
The mortgage broker, who is trying to get development approval for a five-star doggy hotel to be called Pucci's, said he would have gladly paid $1 million for the safe return of the dogs, if he could be assured that that would be the end of the matter. But he said if he paid now they would come back for more.
Chatswood detectives confirmed they were investigating the case. Mr Lazar said he would pay a substantial reward for anyone who could provide information which led to the recovery of ''my little angels''.
He provided the pictures in the hope that anyone seeing them may be able to provide further information.