SYDNEY - Four pedigree pooches were being held for a Aus$300,000 (US $322,000) ransom over soured multimillion-dollar business deals, a report said Wednesday, with the thieves threatening to slash their throats.
The dogs -- a miniature poodle, Maltese terrier and two Maltese shih-tzus -- were snatched from the home of Sydney mortgage broker Ian Lazar, who described them as his "little angels" in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
"They knew that my dogs are my kids. They get dressed every morning, have pajamas and I fought for them in my divorce as one does with kids," Lazar told the paper.
The colorful executive, who loans money to people refused credit by major banks, said he suspected the dogs were stolen by two men who claimed he owed them money over business deals.
He recently refused to pay them more than Aus$1 million and said "that's when they took my dogs".
Since they were snatched Lazar said he had been approached "through third parties to buy them back or their throats will be cut, one by one," and a photo of them cowering in a cage had been sent to him as proof they were still alive.
So enamored of dogs he plans to open a five-star canine hotel called "Pucci's", Lazar said he would "rather die myself than see any pain or torment to my beautiful dogs".
But he refused to give in to the petnappers' demands and said he was hoping the police or the offer of a substantial reward would ensure his pets were saved.