Shooting community praised over return of stolen dog

The owner of a black Labrador stolen at this year?s CLA Game Fair has told Shooting Times magazine of her joy at the dog?s safe return.

Owner Ella Meredith was reunited with Lilah after the dog was found near Swansea, 120 miles from where she was taken.

The dog?s identity was confirmed at a local vet?s, using her microchip. Ella said: ?My parents had been putting up posters in the area, and it seems that Lilah had become too hot to handle and was dumped by the thieves.?

Ella said: ?She has suffered no ill effects, and seems to have been looked after by whoever had her. She is very nervous of new people and situations, which makes us think she was moved around a lot.?

Ella spoke of the ?thriving, wonderful community of shooting folk? that had helped in the search for her beloved pet.

She said: ?It was certainly the publicity that we received, and the help of so many people, from close friends to complete strangers, that bought our girl home.?

?There were days I despaired while looking for Lilah, but I would check my emails to find another person offering to put up posters, or feature her on a website, or pass on her details in their gundog club, or just a kind message telling me to keep my chin up. It was truly amazing.?

Ella continued: ?Shooting people often get undeserved bad press, but on this occasion people really pulled together to find my little dog, and put my family back together. I can?t say thank you enough.?

The news of Lilah?s return comes as experts warn that cases of dog theft will continue to rise, as unscrupulous individuals realise how attached owners can become to their adored pets.

Tom Watkins, the founder of AnimalSearchUK.co.uk, said: ?We need to raise awareness of this and put owners on their guard, so instead of just treating their pet as an adorable part of the family, they need to be aware that it is a potential theft problem as well.?

He continued: ?Police will, of course, investigate, but the difficulty is that pets can walk off on their own. So, unless there?s a witness who can specifically say that they saw the dog being taken, then it will be recorded as simply missing because the police don?t want to bump up crime figures unnecessarily.?

Meanwhile, Shooting Times has also been informed this week of the theft of two litters of spaniel puppies from Will Clulee?s Poolgreen Gundogs Kennels in Farlow, near Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire.

One litter is described as ?unusual?, made up of black and tan cocker puppies (above).

The second litter is of springers and has both liver-and-white and black-and-white puppies.

Mr Clulee, one of the UK?s top spaniel handlers, believes the puppies were targeted by someone who knew about their breeding.

The puppies are eight weeks old with top pedigrees, and were due to go to their new homes just days after the theft took place.

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