A dog owner has told how her family dog was taken from a campsite and then recovered 240 miles away after reporting it to police and launching a social media campaign.
Dog theft has risen by around a fifth since the pandemic with demand increasing for pets during lockdown and there was an average of seven pets stolen each day during 2020.
Anni Crow, 49, said the thieves snatched Ruby, a nine-month-old sprocker spaniel from their home in Wales, and took her on a five hour drive to North London, reported MyLondon.
The family owns the campsite in Ilanrhystud in west Wales and live in a house on the site.
Ruby was stolen from the locked kitchen where she had been left for a couple of hours while her owners were out on August 14, said Anni.
The dog was snatched at some point between 11.30am and 2pm, and as soon as Anni and her family discovered Ruby was missing they raised the alarm.
“My children were in tears and they had to leave work. [The thieves] caused so much stress to our family,” said Anni.
The police were treating the incident as a burglary, and Anni began to work tirelessly on social media to raise awareness in a desperate attempt to recover her beloved dog.
Ruby’s theft was shared widely on social media, and at 9pm Anni received a mysterious phone call from a man who said he had found Ruby. The man had been staying at the campsite earlier that week.
He gave a bizarre excuse as to why he had taken the dog and transported her 240 miles away from her home in west Wales to Finchley in North London.
“He said she had got in his car and wouldn’t get out so he took her to London,” said Anni.
“I think they intended to sell her but got cold feet when the police were pressing charges.
“I had the address, so I drove there and got her.”
Anni explained that, although the family were relieved to be reunited with Ruby, she was not her normal self and had clearly been traumatised by the situation.
Anni added: “A couple handed her over but they had her in a locked garage and she was not her normal self. Ruby was shaking and terrified, locked in a garage without food and water.”
She has now installed CCTV at her campsite to prevent devastating thefts like this happening again.
“It is disgusting what these people did, and they showed no remorse at all,” Anni added.
Shocking new figures have revealed an estimated 2,438 dogs were reported stolen last year, up 19% from 2019.
But sadly only 22% were reunited with their owners.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers continue to be the most popular breed of dog targeted by thieves, according to analysis by Direct Line Pet Insurance, with 97 dogs stolen in 2020.
Crossbreeds remain the second most targeted, with 52 dogs stolen last year, although this was a fall of nearly a third compared to 2019.
Cocker Spaniels became the third most commonly stolen in 2020 with 34 dogs taken.