A year ago today a couple was left devastated when their pet dog was stolen from their home – now they and an army of canines are marching to raise awareness about protecting pets from criminals.
Old Buckenham residents Rita and Philip Potter said their lives were irreversibly changed when their five-year-old golden Labrador, Daisy, was stolen from their back garden.
Mr Potter was in the shower when the incident occurred, but a neighbour reported seeing a man put the dog into the back of a silver pick-up truck and driving away.
Mrs Potter said she hoped the march today (November 24) at Norwich’s Chapelfield Gardens would raise awareness about dog theft.
She said: “People are still leaving their dogs unattended tied up outside shops and it makes them vulnerable to thieves. We need people to realise dog theft does happen and you’ve got to keep your gates locked and your dog in your sight.”
She added: “Losing a dog is like losing a child. It’s still emotional every day.”
Mr and Mrs Potter are not alone in their experience, with more than 40 dogs stolen in Norfolk in 2017.
It is thought that most dogs are taken for breeding, with pure bred Labrador puppies often fetching up to £1,000.
Smaller dog breeds are also snatched to be used as bait in illegal dog fight training, often dying as a result of injuries sustained from bigger animals.
A Facebook group to help track Daisy was set up by Mrs Potter’s neighbour and received nearly 4,000 new members in its first year.
Animal campaigner and march co-ordinator Sue Turner said the group decided to take to the streets to reach those not on social media.
Joining the marchers was Lynne Paul, who had her black Labrador Jet stolen from her home in Cambridgeshire last year.
She said support for the march had left her emotional.
She added: “Every day is a rollercoaster since Jet was taken and people get in touch every day with potential sightings.
“It’s so sad but I will never give up hope of finding him.”