A DOG owner who tracked down her stolen pet via Facebook is calling for the thefts of animals to be taken more seriously.
Connie Wisniewski, 26, was devastated when her two and a half year old French bulldog Fleur was taken from her Bedford home on New Year’s Eve.
Connie said: “My heart sunk, I physically felt sick not knowing where she was and if she was safe.”
She also felt she was a targetted attack as she is a valuable breed, saying ‘the criminals clearly knew her worth’.
Connie contacted police but also took action herself – plastering Fleur’s face over social media to make her ‘too hot to handle’.
The plan worked, and the bulldog was back home within 48 hours after someone spotted her in a Bedford house.
A suspect has since been arrested and Connie is now joining the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance and Lost Dogs UK in the fight for more action in tackling dog theft – which has risen by 24 per cent over the last three years.
At the Dog Theft Awareness Day in Westminster on March 14, MPs will be asked to sign a pledge to back tougher sentencing and compulsory scanning of microchips for vets and dog wardens.
A spokesman for the Stolen & Missing Dogs Alliance said: “The crime is largely unpunished as few cases reach court, and because dogs are regarded as goods any sentence reflects the value of the dog not the impact on the victim who has lost a member of their family.”
Connie added: “Dogs should not be treated like mobile phones or laptops when they are stolen. They are much loved family members which mean the world to some people.
“I consider it as kidnap. To take a very loved living being from somebody’s home should be taken much more seriously.”
She added: “Tougher sentencing is needed and chips should always be checked so people should lobby MPs to attend on the 14th.”
Bedford MP Richard Fuller has also said he will be attending and told BoS: “”The theft of a much loved pet is naturally a very difficult time for any pet owner.
“There are a range of penalties available to the courts to punish those who commit these crimes and I will be speaking to the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance at their event in Parliament on 14thMarch to listen to their views on the adequacy of the penalties available.”
A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police: “The force takes reports of stolen dogs seriously, and these reports are investigated as seriously as any other theft, as we recognise that these incidents can be extremely distressing for victims.
“Each case is assessed individually, but officers would look at a number of lines of enquiry to establish the circumstances surrounding an incident.”
Find out more at stolenandmissingpetsalliance.co.uk