Co-operation and co-ordination - it works!
ON A daily basis Dog Theft Action endeavours to maintain its image as an ‘action’ group in the face of dog theft. This was highlighted last week when Doglost UK was alerted about the theft of six dogs belonging to the respected show judge, Viv Phillips.
The dogs – Grand and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen had been taken from Ms Phillips’ premises in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. It is unlikely that anyone involved in the canine world at any level was left unaware of this incident. The thieves had even helped themselves to leads and left two dogs injured and others traumatised. Here we describe how the search for these dogs was co-ordinated by DTA forum co-ordinator and Jennie Dhanjal of Doglost UK.
Dee Ford explains:
‘This area of Hertfordshire is known as popular for dog theft. Only a few weeks ago a Jack Russell was recovered from thieves - and sure enough this latest theft was close enough to this "hotspot" of dog theft crime, to cause major concern.
‘We had to act quickly, before the dogs were moved. Viv and her staff ran to the area with posters and immediately the word went onto the Doglost UK website (www.doglost.co.uk) sure enough, other helpers soon logged on.
‘Hertfordshire has a number of empathetic owners who have also recovered dogs from the same thieves. Phone calls between Doglost UK and Dog Theft Action rallied helpers into action. Ian West, a customer of Viv's boarding kennels, and fellow victim of dog theft in this area, swung into the fore. Before our eyes we saw an amazing effect - one that we all knew we could cause but one that really needed to be demonstrated to the canine world - and to the public.
‘Our first sighting of two dogs running loose came from exactly the area we predicted, by a local newspaper photographer. Viv rushed to the area, as did a number of Doglost UK helpers, all aware that if the dogs were loose, then it was likely the thieves had realised they were hot property and dumped them. Previous experience shows that thieves monitor the Doglost UK website.
‘Meanwhile, Jayne Hayes, founder of Doglost UK had arranged interviews on local radio stations and local taxi firms had put out alerts on their radios. Then Ian called in - four dogs had been sighted running loose one of which had been taken to a police station in the same area. The dogs appeared to have been dumped and we were anxious that they could be picked up or cause an accident. The need to find them was becoming more and more urgent. We received confirmation that the first two had being picked up by the owner so that left four to locate.
‘Suddenly we received news from Ms Phillips that a local vet had one of the dogs on his premises. The dog had literally walked into the surgery! As emails whizzed around the dog community, alerts went on every dog Internet forum that could be found, chain emails were received by hundreds of people, as helpers scoured the area. It seemed the dogs were running along a pathway, in and out of Hemel Hempstead. As the Doglost UK website went crazy - the Three Counties Radio put out two interviews, closely followed by Anglia TV, the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror who subsequently produced articles alerting the public to this despicable crime. The night drew to an end with 3 dogs safe and well, but three dogs still left running loose.
‘The following morning there were no further sightings of the dogs but public and media attention continued. Then just after 2pm, Viv was informed that 2 more dogs had been sighted. We always advise owners in this situation to leave a trail for the dog to scent; this can include the owner’s urine, contents of the owner’s vacuum bag, and clothing worn recently by the owner - anything at all that has been worn close to the body on the previous day. In this case these measures were supplemented by a trail left by Viv dragging tripe along the ground in a pair of tights. We believe the dogs had responded to these measures and a call from the Hemel Gazette confirmed that the two dogs had been found in the target area and were actually in their offices, as the finder had read the local coverage of the search! To our intense relief one of the dogs was Viv’s pregnant bitch.
‘As the search continued for the missing black and white Petit bitch, the Independent Newspaper had confirmed an article about dog theft and Channel 4’s Richard & Judy invited Jayne Hayes, Viv Phillips and the owner of Max the stolen Staffordshire Bull Terrier from Notting Hill, to feature in a slot on the show. The helpers from Doglost UK and DTA had caused a reaction to this theft that was truly being felt nationally. We were amazed.
‘This case proves that co-operation and co-ordination can produce results. Victims of dog crime are determined to help others who are suffering themselves and it shows how ordinary people can help. Complete strangers were making calls, sending emails, running to the area to help in a truly magnificent effort. The hit rate on both websites have soared and helpers remain "on the ground" searching for Libby, who is still missing. All helpers and co-ordinators remain adamant that she will be found - surely everyone has heard of the plight of these dogs? All offers of help in the continuing search for Libby will be much appreciated.
‘The whole event has shown that DTA, Doglost UK and the dog owning public will not tolerate dog theft! They will unite to become a force to be reckoned with if anyone dares to steal any dog, anywhere in the UK. Many people have felt and commented that there is now no point in stealing dogs - because we will stop this crime, no matter what. The most heartening aspect has been that people like you - ordinary people who care about dogs, made the entire effort possible.
Together, we will make a difference - and again, this time - we did make a difference.
‘DTA urges dog lovers everywhere to participate in action of this kind when the need arises. Jayne Hayes of Doglost UK who has constantly expressed her intention to have a Doglost helper on every street in the country said:
‘“It is heartening to see in action what fellow dog owners can achieve together. Due to the high level of dog theft in the Hemel Hempstead area we have formed an exceptional group of helpers who immediately sprang into action on hearing about the theft of the 6 dogs and were able to actively support the distressed owner, putting up posters in "known" hotspots, walking their dogs in the area and using all press and media contacts with the result that 5 of the 6 have already been located.
‘“The Media have played an active role in the recovery of these dogs making them too hot too handle. On day one we had local radio coverage and local papers, then on Thursday the National tabloids featured the story culminating in an appearance on The Richard and Judy show on Friday!
The media were amazed at the co-ordination between fellow dog owners and especially their concern. We always need more helpers and in the areas we do have many the recovery rate goes up. So please sign up today! It’s free of charge and unfortunately you may need our help one day - dog theft is closer than you think!
Websites: www.dogtheftaction. co.uk www.doglost.co.uk