Lavinia Broom and Molly
AN OWNER whose dog was stolen turned detective and traced her dog to the thieves’ house, leading to the safe return of her dog and the puppies that had been illicitly bred from her.
Lavinia Broom was distraught when her Springer Spaniel bitch Molly was stolen from the garden of her home in Bratton, Wiltshire in March of this year
Knowing the dog had probably been stolen to breed, Miss Broom scoured dozens of adverts for puppies until she found the culprits.
When she found Molly, who had been taken to a house near Salisbury, she had given birth to 12 puppies six weeks earlier, four of which had already been sold for £250, despite KC and RSPCA guidelines which say puppies should not be taken away from their mothers for at least eight weeks.
Miss Broom said: ‘I was devastated when Molly was stolen. Every day I'd get up and hope she'd be waiting outside the door.
‘I knew she was about to come into season and worked out when she'd be likely to have puppies and looked at all the adverts within a 100-mile radius at that time.
‘By chance I happened to look at a free paper in work and I saw a little advert saying puppies would be available on August 11 and I just had a gut feeling they'd be Molly's.
‘I felt quite nervous phoning them up and I was also apprehensive because after visiting six other places I didn't want to be let down again.’
Miss Broom, who runs the Lavinia Hair and Beauty salon in Wilton, arranged to visit the puppies with a colleague and when she got there asked the householders – a woman and a young man - if she could meet the puppies’ mother. The pair obliged, bringing the Spaniel which they called Jess, although Miss Broom instantly recognised her as Molly. She continued to play detective and did not indicate that she knew Molly, although this was extremely hard for her.
‘As soon as Molly saw me she got excited and jumped all over me. I had to pretend I didn't know her, which was really difficult,’ she said. ‘I told the seller I would go away and think about buying two of them. We made out we were going to the bank to get cash and said we'd be back in an hour.
‘She looked so sad when she thought I was leaving her. The expression on her face said ‘don't leave me.'’
Miss Broom did return within an hour, but this time with a policeman in tow. As Molly was microchipped the officer was able to confirm he belonged to her and owner and pet were reunited.
Miss Broom also managed to take two of the puppies with her and said while she was over the moon to have her dog back she was angry by what happened.
‘I'm appalled and I know if I hadn't got her back they would have waited until she was in season and bred from her again,’ she said. ‘They tried to make out she’d come from a rescue centre to start with, but that’s rubbish, as rescues do rehome un-neutered dogs. Then they tried to say they’d found her.’
‘They've made a nice little earner of £2,000 from her and would have got another £500 if I hadn't had two of the puppies. It's absolutely ridiculous.’
She said Molly had been traumatised by her experience but she and the two puppies were getting on well and accompanied her to work at her salon every day.
The police are currently investigating the case and initially said that it was unlikely the sellers would be taken to court because the dog had been returned.
However, Miss Broom told OUR DOGS that the young man had subsequently admitted to stealing Molly when he saw her whilst working in a house a few doors away from where Miss Broom lives.
‘I’m hopeful that a police prosecution will be taken out against these people,’ she said.
Margaret Nawrockyi of the campaigning charity Dog Theft Action commented: ‘Lavinia Broom is to be congratulated on her tenacity and dedication to her pet by scouring adverts within a 100-mile radius of her and finding the whereabouts of her dog. It is also encouraging that she was able to get a police officer to accompany her to the house as all too often the victims of dog theft are unable to count on police support at crucial times.’
DTA point out on their website that even if a dog is found straying, the law states that its finder must report the fact to the police. Not to do so means that they are guilty of ‘theft by finding’.