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Stolen Shih Tzu is now re-united with owner

A STOLEN pedigree Shih Tzu named Cleo was reunited with her overjoyed owner last Saturday just over three weeks since being stolen from a quarantine kennels, writes Nick Mays.

As reported previously in OURDOGS, Cleo, owned by Rachael Collins from Reading was stolen from Airpets kennels near Heathrow airport. She had been held in limited quarantine for health checks and was due to fly out to Cairo to be with Rachael’s parents Janet and Steve a few days later.

According to eye-witnesses, two or maybe three men turned up at the kennels in a van at the same time when the dogs were out of their runs, whilst the runs were being cleaned.

The men engaged a member of staff in conversation and then drove off again. The kennelmaid cleaning the runs heard a great deal of barking from the dogs, and on checking them, saw that four year-old Cleo was missing. She was, in fact, the only dog taken, which indicates that the thieves had specifically targeted her.

Press Officer Rachael Collins, 23, told OUR DOGS at the time of Cleo’s theft: "I am terribly distressed that my pet has been stolen in this way, in broad daylight. I can’t blame the kennels as such, as the men were obviously professional thieves, used to operating in the way they did. I am afraid that Cleo may be sold on to someone."

Rachael and Airpets had offered a joint reward of £1,000 for Cleo’s safe return. Despite contacting the media and posting Cleo’s theft on the Internet via various Missing Dog websites, Rachael was beginning to despair that she’d never see her pet again. But a breakthrough occurred last weekend when Rachael received a telephone call from a woman who lived many miles outside London. After driving for about 600 miles last Saturday night, Rachael met the woman near Ipswich, Suffolk and was finally reunited with Cleo at about 10pm. Apart form looking a little more dishevelled than when she was stolen, Cleo was in good health and ecstatic to see Rachael again.

The woman told Rachael that she had been given the dog by another family who had acquired her recently. The family said they could not cope with dog and wondered if the woman would like her. A few days later, quite by chance, the woman had seen an advertisement placed by Rachael in Loot magazine and realised that the dog she had been given was Rachael’s. She received confirmation of this when she called Cleo’s name and the little dog responded happily. She duly made contact with Rachael on the Saturday morning and arranged the meeting.

Rachael told OUR DOGS: "As I am sure you can imagine, we are absolutely thrilled – Cleo seems no worse off for her little ‘adventure’ and we are now just looking forward to things getting back to normal.

"I didn’t ask too many questions, as I was just pleased to get Cleo back. The woman refused any reward money, although I did get her to accept £100 for her petrol, as she had driven a long way to meet me to hand Cleo over. Cleo has been well looked after and is safely back home now, and that’s what counts."

Cleo will stay with a family friend for a few days until Rachael’s mother Janet returns from Egypt to collect her and will fly back to Egypt together a week later on the same flight. "She won’t be staying in kennels again," added Rachael.

"Thank you so much to everyone for all their help, the amount of support we have received has been amazing."

Rachael added some pertinent advice to other dog owners whose dogs had gone missing and urged them never to give up hope.