THE LATEST member to join the Dog Theft Action team is Laura Lucas. Laura joined the group just before Crufts and will be taking responsibility for merchandise and editing the supporter's page on the DTA website. This will be a crucial role because of the many messages that DTA have received since its launch in January.
Laura, herself a victim of dog theft tells her own story: "I have worked in the equine world since the age of 17. Formerly I was a jockey, competing in point-to-point racing and a show-jumper, before becoming involved in showing horses at national level. Currently my work takes me all over West Yorkshire where I live with my husband and various animals including horses, dogs and cockatiels. Recently I have become a show judge, I lecture in horse management and I teach for The Riding for the Disabled Association.
"Dogs have always been a huge part of my life. My dogs have always accompanied me wherever I went. They came to work with me regularly, enjoying the thrills and smells of the stable yards.
When Lily and Puzzle were stolen out of my car I was devastated. I became seriously ill after the theft but vowed to keep on looking for them. I have searched the country from Cumbria to beyond Norfolk.
"The day Lily a Shih-Tzu and Puzzle a Jack Russell Terrier were stolen we received a tip off from the security guard at the shopping centre where we had parked for ten minutes! There had been a spate of vehicle thefts and he advised us to check a particular area. We waited for two hours after the police advised us not to enter the site without them in case the situation got out of hand. Then the police said they couldn't spare an officer to investigate the theft. We waited all night but the police only arrived after I insisted on entering the site - by then the thieves had vanished and so had my dogs. That night I suffered a heart attack and the police took me to hospital.
"I have had threatening phone calls during the late evening telling me to give up the search for my dogs because my efforts would increase police activity in their particular area. I reported the calls to the police who ordered me to stay away from these areas - but they did not investigate on my behalf!
"When I learned that the police had lost my only photographs of Lily and Puzzle I could not believe it! I had no means of publicising this theft - just a couple of snaps from my mobile phone, which were totally inadequate. This just isn't good enough! We need the help and skills of the police to find our dogs not make things worse. Lack of activity and consideration for my property and my feelings definitely made matters and my health worse.
"Since becoming involved with DTA I have felt empowered - I am dedicated to promoting the aims and objectives of this group. There is a reward of £2,500 each for Lily and Puzzle."