PET owners are being warned to be vigilant after dog-nappers struck twice in Fareham.
Mum-of-two Gemma Atkin-Brown, from Titchfield Park, Fareham, has told of her family’s heartache after their schnauzer Lola was taken by a group of thieves.
The 33-year-old said: ‘I can’t understand why someone would want to take someone’s pet. She was part of our family.
‘She was my little boy’s best friend. He’s so gutted.
‘My daughter is disabled and she can’t understand where Lola has gone. It is horrible.’
Lola was snatched from Gemma’s dad’s front garden in Wallisdean Avenue, Fareham, on August 8 after she escaped from his car and went to wait on the doorstep.
These dogs are basically our children and someone tried to swipe one. It really brought it home to us how careful you have to be.Mark Burroughs, from Fareham
A neighbour saw two men and one woman take the dog.
Despite a desperate appeal, which has been shared extensively on social media, there have been no further sightings of Lola.
Another family have also spoken of the terrifying moment they caught a man trying to take their dog, a Jack Russell-pug called Spud.
Mark Burroughs was walking Spud, along with another dog called Farley Mowett, in the Water Meadows in Wallington, on Saturday, September 26, when he heard Spud growl.
As he came round the corner, he found a man with Spud in his arms. When he challenged the man and said he would call the police, the man ran off.
The 48-year-old businessman said: ‘I was really shaken. These dogs are basically our children and someone tried to swipe one. It brought it home to us how careful you have to be.’
He urged other dog owners to take care, saying: ‘Just be vigilant. Keep your dog in your sights. We would be devastated if we lost one of them. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like. It is the stuff of nightmares.’
Mark’s partner Liz Briggs, 47, said: ‘We are lucky because our dog growls if he doesn’t know you whereas many others don’t.
‘It’s scary and it is heartbreaking to think what they do with these dogs. He’s an older dog and he’s been spayed so I dread to think what they would’ve done to him.’
Police said they were investigating the theft of Lola. A spokesman said: ‘This theft, which occurred between midday and 2pm on August 8, was reported to us on August 15. We’re still investigating. Anyone with information is urged to call 101, quoting reference 44150282609.’
PC Sam Couchman, from Fareham West Neighbourhood Policing Team, said he was aware of the ‘suspicious male in Wallington around the Water Meadows’ but he moved to reassure residents they had received no other reports of a dog theft in the past 30 days.
He urged dog owners to not let their dogs out of their sights on walks and to report any suspicious activity to the police.