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Owners pay ransom for safe return of puppies

YET ANOTHER case of dognapping has made its way into the press as three Whippet puppies went missing in Hampshire over the Bank Holiday weekend. However, this particular case has a happy ending as the dogs have since been safely reunited with their owners - at a cost.

Pauline Oliver of Spyanfly kennels was preparing lunch in her kitchen on Good Friday while her five 15-week-old pups were playing happily in the garden, which surrounds three sides of her bungalow. At 11.30am, ten minutes after letting them out, Pauline called the dogs back inside but they did not appear.

Thinking they must be frolicking in the barn she explored the garden further where she found two of the pups sitting very quietly in their beds. The three other Whippets were nowhere to be seen.

‘It was so unlike them to just sit there - they did not even move forward to greet me,’ Pauline told OUR DOGS.

Calling her husband and son to join in the search Pauline soon realised that the dogs must have been stolen and quickly called the police and the local dog warden who advised her to contact Dog Lost, upon which posters were made and distributed including a reward for information leading to the safe return of the pups.

The police took Pauline’s details and the details of the puppies, but not the dogs’ identichip numbers, so Pauline advises owners to make sure the police have these numbers as they cannot stop somebody taking dogs away if they are not identifiable.

‘I am very lucky in having two police officer friends who have one of my Whippets. They came to my house after my desperate phone call and Samantha was on the phone for forty minutes to all avenues of the police force giving all of the information such as chip numbers,’ said Pauline.

Ransom money

On Saturday morning Pauline’s husband and a friend were handing out flyers and visited some travellers’ sites when a young man approached and took a flyer. Soon after this Pauline received a phone call from a man saying he felt sure he knew where one of the pups was.

‘By the end of the conversation he knew he would be able to ‘go in’ and get the three out at a price, as he would have to pay. He asked for a £1,000 per puppy at which I told him that was impossible and bartered him down to £500 per pup. I told him it would take some time to visit 3 cash machines to get the money. We arranged to meet one and a half hours later in a lay-by outside of Basingstoke,’ Pauline told us

‘Whilst my husband was picking up the cash I spoke to my police friends and Dog Lost to see how to go about the exchange. I was phoned by the CID department who advised me to let them go to the scene. We turned that down, as I did not want any chance of losing my pups. They said it was our choice but if we did proceed on our own they would have cars half a mile away and we were to call 999 if things went wrong. They would also have plain-clothed police driving up and down that road witnessing the event.’

When the time for the ‘exchange’ arrived Pauline sat in the back of the car and insisted to the dognappers that they were to hand one puppy at a time through the window and she would pay for one at a time.

‘All went smoothly and nothing was said until I was putting the window up and told him vehemently that I did not ever want to see him again. The pups were okay although had not been fed and had been kept in a stable or horse trailer as they stunk of the ammonia of horse urine,’ said Pauline.

Half a mile away from the rendezvous point, Pauline and her husband were worried when they saw four police cars heading towards the lay-by where the exchange had taken place. Worried there might be reprisals Pauline rang CID and asked them not to pursue the dog nappers but was assured that the vehicle license plate had been noted by the police as they had watched the exchange from an unmarked car.

‘We do know that these predators are not punished or put off at all by any light warning that the police give so we did not feel that anybody would benefit from police interference. Of course we are angry at being blackmailed but are obviously worried about reprisals. It is the worst nightmare, an unimaginable horror, finding your much loved dogs have been stolen.
‘Looking at the positive side of this event we have learnt a lot and are willing to share our knowledge with others that it will make it easier for them to manage and cope with such a frightening experience,’ added Pauline.

Community spirit

Now that the three Whippets are safely back home and recovering from their ordeal, Pauline and her family have had time to reflect on the support and kindness displayed by dog folk during this difficult time.

‘I must emphasise how efficient, caring and instrumental Dog Lost were plus they gave me great hope of their [the dogs] return. I was staggered at the response from dog folk and that they really got on doing positive things such as emailing others, internet forums and organisations that help people find lost and stolen dogs.’

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