BURGLARS stole a donation box from a local charity that helps war heroes lead independent lives.
The Hounds For Heroes charity box was snatched during a burglary at dog grooming parlour Absolutely Barking, in the Westbrook Centre, Cowplain.
After breaking into the salon through the back door, crooks made off with the clearly-marked box – containing over £200 – and the £50 float from the till.
The funds were raised through a nail-clipping service which dog groomers offer in return for a donation to the military charity.
Salon owner Lin Way said: ‘I was devastated when I discovered what happened, especially when I realised that the donation box was gone.
‘We wanted to fill it up and send it to the charity in time for Christmas – and we were nearly there.
‘The business money can be replaced but it will be difficult to raise all that charity money again.’
It is the second donation box the dog parlour has collected for Hounds for Heroes – the first raised £250.
The salon is now collecting donations in a temporary box – pictured on page 1 – until a replacement one arrives.
Based in Petersfield, Hounds for Heroes trains puppies to become assistance dogs for injured military personnel. They can collect post, switch on lights, and do many other tasks.
It was founded in April last year by Gulf War veteran Allen Parton whose world-famous dog Endal helped him recover from a serious head injury.
And last week the charity held its first puppy class having finally raised enough money to buy five pups.
After hearing about the theft Mr Parton, 50, of Warburton Way, Clanfield, said: ‘I was distraught – we are a very small organisation and that money would have made a huge difference.
‘It could’ve gone towards food for the puppies, or collars. There’s lots of things they need and it’s very hurtful to think someone has taken that away from them.
‘But it’s especially hard at this time of year when we are supposed to be supporting our troops in Remembrance.
‘They have been out fighting for Queen and country and need support when they get back. To find out there is a group of people out there who can steal from them is almost sacrilege.’
Police are investigating the incident which happened between 6pm on Thursday, November 3 and 9am on Friday, November 4.
Anyone with any information should call 101 or 0845 045 4545, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.