Puppy snatcher warning after second incident in fortnight

Puppy snatcher warning after second incident in fortnight

Owner left ‘shaking’ on River Exe path after three puppy snatchers attempted to steal her dog.

Vets have issued a warning and police are investigating the second reported puppy-snatching attempt in a fortnight in the Exeter area.

City Vets put out a warning after the second incident, involving a 10-week old puppy, this weekend. Two weeks ago dog owners were warned of a similar dog-napping attempt in Exmouth.

In the latest incident on the path beside the River Exe the owner said she was left shaking after being circled by three youths – two on bikes and one on foot.

She managed to escape to safety with her 10-week-old puppy but said they were ‘very intimidating’ as they repeatedly came back when there were no other walkers or cyclists around. The dog walker said she also met a sausage dog owner who also thought they were trying to steal her valuable pet.

It happened near the old paper mill and flood defences, on the path near the Port Royal pub.

The woman said she saw the youths later meet about 15 other people by the Mill Stones near the Mill on the Exe. She believes those responsible are drug dealers and said she saw ‘multiple drug deals going on’.

She has been walking on the paths twice a day for eight years with her older dog but had never seen anything like it before.

Nationally there has been a reported rise in dog thefts.

City Vets, which has four surgeries in Exeter, said the incident in Exeter has been reported to police: “We have been made aware of an incident on the River Exe Pathways on Friday 1st November at 9.20am.

“Three youths attempted to abduct a young dog whilst it was being walked on a lead by its owner.

“Two of the youths were on bicycles, one on foot, they were very intimidating. Thankfully they were not successful in taking the dog. 

“This incident has been reported to police. Please be extra vigilant in the area.”

Exactly a fortnight earlier a similar incident was reported at St John Playing Field in Exmouth. The attempted dog-napping also involved ‘intimidating’ children trying to unclip the lead of small puppy.

A member of the public said on the Exmouth Community Facebook page: “Please be aware of two children aged between eight and 14: one boy and one girl in St John’s Field trying to possibly take small, cute dogs/pups.

“A friend of mine had a bad experience on Sunday where these two children were very forceful about stroking her small puppy that was on a lead, and while stroking it trying to unclip its lead.

“And when being told to go away becoming quite ‘in your face’ and not taking no for an answer. Trying to get the owner to walk their dogs into the woods. Using distraction techniques like throwing the ball for the other dog whilst still trying to fuss around the small dog and unclip it.”

She said the “kids may be young but they were very intimidating and knew how to handle dogs”. 

And she added: “This could be nothing but I’d rather people were more cautious than lose their dogs.”


Dog theft crooks tend to get off lightly, says Daniel Allen, animal expert at Keele University.

Daniel said: “With minimal ­deterrents there are various dog theft ­networks working at local and national levels stealing pets for profit.

“Dogs are stolen to order to sell, to breed, for ransom and even for use as bait in illegal dog fighting.”