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Breeder’s ransom nightmare

THREE PEDIGREE puppies were stolen in broad daylight from a leading breeder’s home, then held to ransom until she paid £2,000 for their safe return.

Around 5pm on Friday last week, Tessa Gaines (Gaystock) was in the bathroom of her house in Kingsclere, Hampshire whilst four 11 week old puppies – three Griffon Bruxellois and a Japanese Chin - were playing in the outside porch which adjoins and enclosed run, along with the Bruxellois’ mother. Then events took an unexpected and sinister turn for the worse.

"My bathroom is situated above the porch," Ms Gaines told OUR DOGS. "There was quite a bit of traffic going past the house, as it was rush hour, so I didn’t hear any vehicle in particular, but I did hear the puppies’ mother barking. Then something in the tone of her barking changed, became more urgent. I looked out of the bathroom window to see a white transit van driving out of our main gates. I dashed downstairs to find the main gates wide open and all but one Bruxellois puppy and the mother gone. Thieves had simply driven up, seen the dogs and coolly opened the gates, driven in and taken them. I think they left the one puppy as it is slightly more cautious than the others and may have been harder to catch."

The stolen dogs were two rough Bruxellois - a red dog and a red bitch - and a Japanese Chin dog, all aged 11 weeks.

Ms Gaines secured the gates then went back indoors and dialled 999 to report the dogs’ theft. "I can’t fault the police, they came within the hour and spent two hours with me recording all the information and gave me a crime number," said Ms Gaines.

After this, she contacted friends who lived locally to look out for the puppies and also contacted missing dog registry DogLost UK. Luckily, one of Ms Gaines’ friends had photographed the puppies a couple of weeks beforehand, so DogLost were able to put the photographs on their website immediately and posters were duly produced.

One of Ms Gaines’ friends had contacts within the local traveller community and made enquiries about the puppies. It soon became clear that the puppies’ whereabouts were known and negotiations between Ms Gaines and the thieves took place via her friend over the course of last weekend.

"The word came back to me that they wanted £5,000 for the puppies’ safe return," said Ms Gaines, "But I managed to beat them down to £2,000. The payment was made and the puppies were returned to my friend at 7pm on Monday evening and she brought them over to me. They were a bit traumatised, but otherwise okay. Their mother was highly delighted to see them."

Ms Gaines told OUR DOGS that the experience had made her anxious for her dogs’ safety in future. "I’d urge everyone to take all possible precautions to keep their homes secure against dog theft," she said. "The thing is though, my run was secure, and they thieves still blatantly came in and took the puppies. You can’t live in a fortress, but it seems that this sort of crime is on the increase because dogs are a soft target. It beggars belief that thieves are able to get away with this. I realise that I was very fortunate to get my dogs back so quickly. I just hope that nobody else has to go through the worry that I went through in the short time they were gone."