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Dog reunited with owners after being missing for seven months

Alert message sent 04/09/2021 08:02:00

Information sent on behalf of Derbyshire Constabulary

A dog has been reunited with his owners seven months after he was reported stolen from his home in Stanfree.

Lucky, a seven-year-old brown and white Springer Spaniel, went missing from the garden at his home on Tuesday 12 January.

His owner, Phil Littlewood, initially thought he may have escaped and had gone missing but reported the incident to police a few days later after a phone call which led him to believe he may have been stolen.

Enquiries have continued to take place throughout the year, and they recently led officers to an address in Reading.

On Saturday 21 August, with help from officers at Thames Valley Police, Lucky was recovered and reunited with his owner.

Mr Littlewood said: “I’ve missed Lucky so much, he never used to leave my side. I’m over the moon that he’s back home. The news what we have been reunited has been so uplifting, especially for pet owners.

“He is a phenomenal dog, a darling. He has a beautiful nature and if you saw him, you’d realise just how lovely he is. I don’t know how anyone could do anything to him.”

Phil received help from FindUKDogs, an online social media group which is run by volunteers. They are not affiliated with the police and they operate independently along with a number of other groups which offer help to victims.

He added: “There were a few times when I just didn’t think I would see him again- I was expecting the worse but we’ve had so much support from FindUKDogs who really helped me keep faith. Mrs Vee there has been a star, she was proper excited to hear the news and has become a good friend.”

We would like to thank Mr Littlewood for allowing us to share a picture of Lucky.

Chief Constable Rachel Swann said: “We know that incidents like these are extremely distressing for dog owners, as they are considered well-loved members of their family. They can also increase concern among other dog owners who want to protect their pets.

“I’m really pleased that we were able help find Lucky and get him back to his owner safely.”
Chief Constable Swann added: “We take all reports of this nature very seriously and are committed to investigating and finding those responsible for these crimes.”

A 34-year-old man from Minsterworth, in Gloucestershire, was arrested by Gloucestershire Police in connection with the incident in June.

He has been questioned by officers in Derbyshire and was released under investigation while enquiries continue.

Welcoming the news, Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster said: “I’m pleased for Lucky and his family. I know that having a dog stolen can be devastating for the owners and happily, Lucky has been returned to his family.

“It is clear that pets have a social and emotional value and them coming to harm can have a deep emotional impact on their owners.  Pet theft is therefore much more than the theft of property and should be treated differently.  I am pleased to see that Derbyshire Police take it very seriously and work hard to reunite dog and owner - including finding the person responsible. 

“I know that people are concerned about dog theft in this County, I hope that this latest outcome will provide some reassurance.  While Pet theft remains a rare occurrence in Derbyshire, I would still urge all pet owners to take note of the measures the Constabulary suggests designed to help them keep their dogs safe.”

Anyone with any information should contact us on the details below, quoting reference 21*37893.
  • Facebook – send us a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
  • Twitter – direct message our contact centre on @DerPolContact
  • Website – complete the online contact form www.derbyshire.police.uk/ContactUs.
  • Phone – call us on 101.
You can also anonymously contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111 or by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Although there have been only a relatively small number of dog thefts in Derbyshire in recent years, there are some things dog owners can do to help protect their pets:
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped and keep the microchip details up to date with any change in your details.
  • Ensure your dog wears a collar with a tag that has with your name, address and phone number – but not the dog’s name.
  • Take and keep photos of your dog, including some together with you, it helps us to identify your dog if found, and for them to be returned to their rightful owners.
  • Make sure your garden is secure and train your dog to come with you when called.
  • Vary the times and routes of your walk if you can.
  • Use a reputable kennels or dog-sitting service, ideally through recommendation, and always check references.
You can find these tips and more advice from the Blue Cross here: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/protect-your-dog-against-theft.
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