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Watch: Couple reunited with pet dog who went missing six years ago
A couple have been reunited with a pet dog who was stolen six years ago.
Simon and Caroline Hall were distraught when their cocker spaniel Bonnie, then three years old, was taken in May 2014.
The Durham pair had given up hope of ever seeing Bonnie again until Thursday, when Simon, 50, received a call from a dog warden telling him she had been found in a Norfolk park – 200 miles from home.
Now the couple have been reunited with their missing pet, one day before her 10th birthday.
Heartwarming footage shows the couple tentatively walking towards Bonnie outside the veterinary centre where she was kept.
As she recognises them, Bonnie starts frantically wagging her tail as her loving owners throw their arms around her.
Caroline said: “We just can’t believe it. It was only a couple of years ago that I gave up up hope but I was still checking all the lost dog sites.
“I’d prepared myself for the fact she might look in a bad way but actually she’s looking quite well. I know the vets have taken wonderful care of her.”
Although there is still no indication of how the dog ended up being so far from home, it’s thought Bonnie was stolen to breed, and Terrington St John Veterinary Centre, where she underwent a hysterectomy yesterday, believes the most recent litter was within the last two months.
Caroline said Bonnie had a “beautiful character” and would sit pitch-side until their young son Robbie had finished playing rugby.
She added: “We’ll now take her back home and introduce her to our other dog, Jessie, and just have a quiet night in front of the fire.
“I think her birthday will be a quiet one too.”
Simon said: “Gosh knows what she’s been through. It doesn’t bear thinking about but at least we can get her back for a few more years and give her a bit of love and care and attention.”
Fenland District Council dog warden Caroline Trigg, who also runs Ravenswood Pet Rescue at Walton Highway, was delighted to be able to reunite the Halls with Bonnie.
Trigg said: “With missing dogs, sometimes they go in the morning and are back in the afternoon – or a couple of days at most. I’ve never known a dog to have been gone this long before.
“I think Bonnie’s had a hard time with the breeding side. Someone has made a lot of money out of her, which is very sad. And she has clearly never been to a vet’s over those six-and-a-half years or her chip would have been read.
“But being able to get her back to her loving home is wonderful – just the good news we need this year.”
Also enjoying the reunion today was the Halls’ 21-year-old daughter Katie.
The family said it was lucky that Bonnie had been microchipped, as without that they may never have been reunited.
Dog thefts have been on the rise for many years.
Gangs target “designer” puppies and certain dog breeds in often violent thefts to feed the demand.
Recent data shows the most popular breeds for thieves are Staffordshire terriers, French bulldogs and cocker spaniels.
Over 2,000 dogs are stolen each year across the UK, according to the Kennel Club. Around 22% of stolen dogs are reunited with their owner.
In 2018, more than 60 dogs were stolen every week in England and Wales.
When the UK went into lockdown as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, interest in new pets skyrocketed, forcing up prices and making pet theft more tempting for criminals.
The Kennel Club group said in June that demand for new dogs was up 180% from last year.