Dog walker’s van stolen with five dogs inside


A SEARCH is underway for five dogs who were inside a professional dog walker’s van when it was stolen.

  The vehicle disappeared from outside a house in West Norwood, London, as Denise Joest was inside collecting another dog.

  Police are investigating the theft, which took place last week, but are not sure whether the motive was to take the van, the dogs, or both.

  One of the animals, a working Cocker Spaniel, was found unharmed in Sydenham a few days later, but the other four are still missing. They are a ‘teacup’ Yorkshire Terrier, a black and cream lurcher, a Cavalier/Poodle cross and a Cocker Spaniel/Poodle cross.

  Anna Bailey, who owns Nina, the lurcher, said she thought she had been spotted in Nunhead cemetery a few days after the theft. 

  “I only moved to the area recently and this is horrific,” she said. “You just don't think someone is going to nick a van and then dump the dogs all over south London.”

  She adopted Nina from Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home.

  “She was nervous and jumpy when I got her five years ago, so if anyone sees her she will be running away,” she said. “But she loves treats and cheese.

  “With everyone out there looking and sharing on Facebook and Twitter somebody will spot them, they’ll turn up, I feel really positive about that.”

  Ms Joest’s dog was one of those stolen. The dog-walking service’s owner, Angela Norton of Complete Pet Care, said: “I don't care about the van – you can replace a van but you can't replace a member of someone's family.

  “I’ve known those dogs since they were puppies, and I'm heartbroken for the owners. The dog walker involved is devastated.”

  The community has rallied around to help in the search for the dogs, although some have not been so supportive.

  “Yesterday I had a really horrible hoax call with someone telling me what they would do to the dogs if I didn't send them money,” she said. “But a number of celebrities, including Clare Balding, have offered to help with the appeal, and a local drone company is helping with the search.”