“Not knowing what happened to our stolen female dog is torture, but we cannot give it up”

Others have been the victims of more violent encounters. Earlier this year Lady Gaga’s French Bulldogs were stolen along with her dog walker who had been shot and injured in the attack. In January, Plymouth college student Ally Wright had two black eyes as she pushed back two men who were trying to steal her pug.

What Causes Dog Thieves to Turn Violent? According to Wilson-Leary, criminals are largely motivated by profit. “The theft of an adult female dog could be considered an investment because she can be bred. Likewise, we know that puppies are really profitable because they can sell for thousands of pounds, ”she says.

Dogs Trust research shows Staffordshire Bull Terriers are one of the most frequently stolen dogs, along with Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs, and Jack Russell Terriers. Yet, according to Wilson-Leary, all dogs are at risk of kidnapping. “People involved in criminal activity will usually go for popular races because that’s where the most money is. However, we are constantly seeing new trends in the popularity of different breeds, so I would advise all owners to be vigilant, ”she adds.

Experts agree that the microchip remains the best way to reunite lost or stolen dogs with their owners. Since the introduction of the mandatory microchip for dogs in 2016, some nine million animals have been microchipped and there are many success stories. However, as a 2019 campaign led by Debbie Matthews, daughter of Sir Bruce Forsyth pointed out, vets are not required to check a new dog’s chip they are treating, which means hundreds of animals have been stolen. could go unnoticed. Alarmingly, some dognappers are even known to cut microchips from dogs, so there is no record of the previous owner.

Wilson-Leary stresses that keeping your dog’s microchip details up to date is crucial to ensuring you have the best chance of being reunited in the event your dog goes missing. Other measures, she says, include making sure your yard is secure and never leaving your dog outside a store unattended.

But, despite all these precautions, many people still find their lives devastated by dog ​​theft. Frustrated with the police response, Joanne and Robert resorted to daily checking of pet sales websites in case they saw Ivy’s ad and continue to post on social media. The public response, says Joanne, has been incredible. However, she acknowledges that even though they were fortunate enough to be reunited with Ivy, there is a risk that she will be a completely different dog than when she left and could take years to adjust. to family life.

“Her food, lead, and toys are still in the closet, waiting for her to come home. When I upload another social media post, some people probably roll their eyes and think, “Here we go again.” But we can’t give it up, ”she said.

Dogs Trust is one of four charities supported by this year’s Telegraph Christmas charity appeal. The others are the Alzheimer Society, Maggie’s and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. To donate, visit telegraph.co.uk/2021 call or call 0151 284 1927