Family celebrate return of dog

A RETIRED couple plagued with hoax phone calls and a £3,000 ransom following the theft of their two dogs are celebrating the return of one of their pets.

A RETIRED couple plagued with hoax phone calls and a £3,000 ransom following the theft of their two dogs are celebrating the return of one of their pets.

David and Maureen Westgate, of Barham, near Ipswich, were distraught when their pet Miniature Dachshund dogs, Shadey, seven, and Cassie, 11, were stolen from their back garden on February 18.

The couple, who have 14 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, contacted Suffolk police in their panic and distributed hundreds of posters to help get them back.

They endured further distress when they were bombarded by hoax calls asking them to handover £3,000 in a supermarket car park to secure the safe return of the animals.

But now the couple, both 75, received the news they had longed for - Shadey had been found.

Annette Taylor-White, landlady of the Freston Boot pub, near Shotley, discovered the pet in the pub car park two weeks ago.

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She alerted police but said she was told if she could not look after the pet herself she should take it to a dog pound. Luckily, a pub regular agreed to provide a temporary home instead.

Mr Westgate, a retired forester, said he was over the moon with the safe return of Shady but was disappointed the police did not carry out checks which would have seen them reunited sooner.

“The police had been informed. We had been in contact on a regular basis. They knew we were looking for him. We had a crime number and everything,” he said. “No checks were made. We did everything possible and we believe we were let down.

“We are so pleased to get him home. Everybody has been in tears. If it had not been for someone taking him in, we would never have got him back.”

Suffolk police said dog theft was fairly rare in Suffolk and they were not aware of an increasing problem.

The couple have enlisted the help of www.doglost.co.uk, the UK's largest organisation for lost dogs, during their search.

Anyone with information should call the couple on 01473 831681.