A woman kicked a dognapper in the shin after he tried to snatch her dog’s lead from her hand.Rachel Soley, 41, was ‘absolutely terrified’ after two men said ‘give me your dog’ as she walked her dog Woody on Salters Lane South in Darlington, County Durham.
Officials say incidents like these are rare, but owners have still been encouraged to ‘not let their dogs out of their sight’ after the ‘frightening’ incident.Rachel told The Northern Echo she ‘didn’t sleep’ after she picked up Woody and fled the scene around 10.40pm on January 29.
She said: ‘I don’t normally walk him late. I had literally just left my house. I was aware of two guys – one of them started to walk over the road. They said to me “give me your dog”. I swore at them.
‘They then tried to take the lead off my hand. I kicked him in the shin.
‘I am 41 years old – I am not a young girl. I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t sleep at all that night as I was worried they’d followed me round the corner.’
David Gray, director at Petpals Darlington & Yarm who is a member of DOGwatch, has warned much-loved pets can be ‘of financial value to these criminals’. Councillor Jonathan Dulston, the council’s deputy leader, has urged owners to be ‘vigilant’ – although said incidents like these are ‘low’ in the area and he doesn’t want to spur ‘unnecessary alarm’. Inspector Dean Haythornthwaite, from Darlington Neighbourhood Police Team, said police were working ‘hard to trace the perpetrators’. He said: ‘I would like to reassure residents that incidents like this are extremely rare in Darlington, with only seven dog theft incidents reported in 2020. In the vast majority of these incidents, the thefts or attempted thefts took place when the dog was in a garden, rather than while out on a walk.’
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Inspector Haythornthwaite has encouraged owners to keep their dogs in view when they go out in the garden, to get them microchipped and to never leave pets tied up unattended.
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