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Pet Theft Awareness

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Case Studies: Stolen Dog Louie

Louie“I felt sick to the stomach, it felt like the life literally drained from me as I ran to the door.”

When we read about the theft of a dog either by it going missing presumed stolen or actually stolen in front of the owner we are all appalled and your sympathy goes out to that owner.

In some cases we spend some time helping to look for the dog or using social media to spread the message on the off chance that someone might produce a lead. But like many news items, we soon pass on to the next incident and leave that individual to fend for his or herself.

There is a saying that time heals but not knowing the fate of your dog if it does get stolen does not allow time to heal.

Here is a real story of what someone goes through when they lose their dog. This story clearly shows that we need to alter the law and get tougher penalties to deter pet theft. In a civilised country we need to get laws which reflect the difference between losing a pet and a plant pot.

Louie was twelve weeks old when he bowled into our lives. He was the tiniest Yorkshire Terrier puppy of his litter and due to his size, the breeder was looking for a special home for him.

We felt so honoured to be chosen to take him home and from the second I laid eyes on him he melted my heart. He looked so comical with his incredibly oversized ears which had only popped upright the day we went to collect him.

We were asked what his name would be, and my daughter said "Louie". The breeder agreed it would suit him perfectly, we later found out that this was also the name of his grandfather.

We totally doted on him and watched him mature into such a handsome little fella with a massive personality. Wherever Louie went he stole people's hearts.

Louie is a born performer, and it did not take long for us to realise he loved doing tricks, training and agility. As his "Grandma" I took him to weekly dog training sessions and was so proud of his achievements.

We spent hours on long walks; days out; and I was always happy to baby sit him, just as any Grandparent would. He is my gorgeous boy.

In August 2012 we were having some renovation work done on the house. I had spent a considerable amount of time choosing workman suitable to be in my home and around Louie.

They are excellent and still continue to work for me from time to time. They were also very aware of Louie and understood that his safety was our prime concern. Everything was going to plan until the evening of the 25th September 2012. A new workman came to our home to look at the central heating. I am still not exactly sure what happened, I know that he went to his car to get further tools and I can only think Louie must have followed him out and got locked out when he returned.

Just after I had arrived home, my neighbour shouted through that she had seen Louie in my front garden and tried to catch him but he ran over into the park.

I felt sick to the stomach, it felt like the life literally drained from me as I ran to the door. I remember it was still fairly light outside and it was raining. All I could think was that Louie hated the rain. I ran out shouting his name. I remember I didn't pick up anything, no keys, no phone and I was still wearing my high heels and suit from work. I ran and ran calling him only occasionally half stopping to listen to instructions of passers by of his whereabouts. By the time I actually stopped I had run over three miles in the pouring rain and had no idea how I was going to get back home but adrenaline kicked in and I felt I could have achieved the impossible if it would find my little boy.

I remember the panic, it's cold and wet; he doesn't have a coat; it's dark. All those thoughts you would have if you lost a child compound by the thought that he might now have been stolen. As a mother I know how that would have felt too.

A deep pit of despair arrived in my stomach that evening which has remained with me during the seventeen long agonising months we have continued to search for Louie.

That night I drove for over thirteen hours searching the streets, but nothing!

We have since walked the streets, parks and woods through both days and nights. We have camped out in our car in freezing temperatures when following up on possible leads and sightings, but nothing!

Our Christmas Day and Boxing Day were also spent out on searches, but nothing!

We have organised numerous search parties and have tried to track Louie, but nothing!

A Facebook page has been set up for Louie and an amazing following of supporters have encouraged us to continue our search, but nothing!

Since Louie's disappearance we have distributed over 50,000 posters and taken every opportunity to promote him wherever we can, still nothing!

This whole experience has totally consumed our lives.

Initially in the following weeks I lost a stone and a half in weight. I couldn't eat or sleep and even discussed with my manager about handing my notice in as I couldn't focus on my work.

Following a period of sick leave, I have since been fortunate to receive the right counselling and care to be able to manage my career while continuing my search for Louie.

The ordeal of losing your pet is painful enough without having to consider that once you put out public notices of your loss you begin to receive hoax calls. Being told that your dog is lying dead in the road or being given detailed accounts of abuse he is currently receiving increases further the pain and distress you are already suffering. To add even more distress welcome to the world of the internet 'trolls'. They join your facebook group and publicly abuse and humiliate you. Many of these people pretend to be animal lovers or have businesses in the animal world.

I can not understand why they would not first and foremost consider the welfare of the animal above their own personal opinion? Such comments like "I am sorry I just cannot comprehend why you are so distressed, it's only a dog" I personally really struggle to deal with.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been criticised for my love of Louie due to individuals' total lack of understanding of my grief. However, a counsellor told me that unless we love unconditionally, as I did Louie, we have never truly loved. He also told me that if you invest love at that level, then the loss becomes unbearable, comparable to that of a close relative.

My family and I have publicly been referred to as sick for even contemplating that the loss of Louie could be comparable to that of a human. But for us it is, Louie is a family member for whom we grieve for everyday.

When a loved one dies, and we have lost several members of our own family over the years, we celebrate their lives; grieve for them; and then try to move forward in our own lives as best we can holding our most treasured memories of them.

Death as painful as it, provides the closure we need to continue our own journeys. Imagine never being able to do that, to live everyday in hope and desperation that your loved one will be returned to you.

Missing pet owners may live like this for many, many years, clinging to hope and the memories of their treasured pets. Consumed with guilt that no matter how much they do, it is never enough to bring their beloved companion home.

Sadly, too many people may never know what has happened to their pets or ever have the closure they so deserve.

Stop and think of the one person you could not bear to be parted from, then try to imagine them gone in the next second. That is as close as anyone can get to imagining our current grief.

If you talk to any missing dog owner they will tell you of their nightmares of the most imaginable horrors that present themselves in their sleep. These are often followed by beautiful dreams of being reunited, happy dreams so real they can touch, feel and smell their gorgeous dog as they cuddle them in their arms. It feels so real and then they suddenly wake up to the shattering reality that it is not true and their beloved dog is still missing.

The highs and lows are an endless roller coaster of emotions which sometimes can become almost unbearable to cope with.

Along our journey, we have been so fortunate to find support and love from people we had only briefly or indeed never even met before. Many are pet owners too who have also suffered the loss of a beloved pet, or who cannot even comprehend the thought of losing their loved ones, and truly want to help.

These people help you to cope with your loss, help defend your cause.and restore your faith in the human race.

We have also had the honour and privilege to meet many of the wonderful organisations supporting missing dogs, tirelessly campaigning to help bring our babies home. Vets get Scanning and Pet Theft Action are campaigns very close to our hearts for the wonderful support they have given us in promoting our appeal for Louie.

Every day dogs, cats and horses are lost or stolen, for all kinds of reasons. I have helped many dog owners with what to do; who to contact; and actions required if they find themselves in the same awful predicament as myself. I am pleased to say that many dogs and owners do get reunited thanks to social networking and public awareness, such as posters etc.

Following leads, I have managed to help reunite four Yorkshire Terriers with their owners, and find safe rescue places for three more. I have also re homed one Yorkie myself as I could not bear to leave him behind in the situation he was in at the time. This created a whole new set of challenges for us as a family,to rehabilitate a frightened little boy who was petrified of people.

This little guy became our new family member, he has helped us cope with the days when we feel really low, as through lots of love, patience and understanding he has blossomed into an incredible loving little dog whom we adore.

But he is not Louie, he will never replace him, and he was never expected to fill the huge gaping hole that Louie has left in all of our lives.

Our search continues and it will always continue until that beautiful dream becomes a reality and we have our gorgeous little boy home safe and sound.

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