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Border Collie rescuer denies ‘ransom’

A woman who returned a Border Collie for a reward has denied she was holding her owners to ransom.

Five-month-old border collie Hettie went missing from her owners' garden in Headington Quarry, Oxford, on Monday. Fiona Ross, 40, and Gautam Bhasin, 57, feared she had been snatched and a day later paid £500 cash to get her back after receiving a telephone call and meeting a stranger outside shops in Wood Farm.

However, Josie Williamsof Headington denies stealing the pet and added she took the money as a reward after seeing appeal posters and had not held them to ransom.

She said: "I found the dog in an alleyway on New Year's Day on the way back from a party and took her home.She stayed that night and I was walking around for ages trying to find her owners. The next day someone told me a poster had gone up.I rang the number from a telephone box and said we could meet up.I didn't say we had to meet outside shops and by a cash machine.

I never said if there wasn't a reward they wouldn't get the dog back and I didn't mean to give that impression."

Hettie disappeared on New Year's Day but was back home by the following Tuesday after posters were placed on lampposts in Headington and appeals for information appeared on a 'doglost' website.