Case of kidnapped canines descends into a dogfight

Holding on ... Ian Lazar (who did not wish to be identified) with the three dogs he owns that were not kidnapped. Thieves are demanding a ransom of $300,000.
Holding on ... Ian Lazar (who did not wish to be identified) with the three dogs he owns that were not kidnapped. Thieves are demanding a ransom of $300,000.

POLICE have searched several houses looking for the four kidnapped dogs of businessman Ian Lazar. The four small dogs were taken from Mr Lazar's north shore home two weeks ago. The dognappers have issued a demand of $300,000 for the safe return of Mr Lazar's pets Lilly, Bella, Goldberg and Max.

Mr Lazar, 39, has given the police the name of the man, a former close associate, whom he believes to be responsible for the kidnap of his dogs.

However, when contacted by the Herald yesterday, the man said he was not involved with the dogs' disappearance.

''I know nothing about the dogs,'' he said. He claimed the allegation against him was a ''set-up'' by Mr Lazar. He and Mr Lazar have fallen out over a substantial sum of money, the man said yesterday.

The man claimed he was one of many victims of Mr Lazar and that the pair had been close until about two months ago when Mr Lazar failed to honour a written agreement whereby Mr Lazar would repay a large amount of money. Mr Lazar, however, claims the signature on the documents is a forgery.

The former associate of Mr Lazar's confirmed that the police had searched a home last week but had found no trace of any of Mr Lazar's dogs.

Earlier this week Mr Lazar obtained an interim apprehended violence order against the man claiming he feared for his life. In his application Mr Lazar stated that the man had previously ''threatened to kill me and my dogs.'' Mr Lazar also claimed the man had ''bashed me in front of other people'' and forced him to pay over a substantial sum of money against his will.

''He has to come to my home and threatened me on more than one occasion and told me I would be the next Michael McGurk,'' Mr Lazar claimed in an interim AVO application.

Mr Lazar's fiancee was previously married to one of the men allegedly threatened by the late standover man Michael McGurk.

The former associate denied previously assaulting Mr Lazar.

Mr Lazar, who has seven dogs, describes them as his ''babies.''

Mr Lazar said the kidnappers had wanted him to buy his dogs back ''or their throats will be cut one by one,'' he said.

Mr Lazar, who deals in the area of financial distress, works in an area rife with upset people. When people default on their loans, Mr Lazar said he negotiates a settlement with the bank and takes over the mortgage himself.

Mr Lazar said in an email yesterday he had been ''assaulted on various occasions and demands for money were forcibly collected from property settlements''.

He also said that it was ''easier to pay these monies over than have to have to deal with the continual expanded threat to my business, staff and friends. My mistake was letting it get to the level that it got to without taking a stance with the authorities''.