‘World turned upside down’: therapy dog stolen from boy, five

When five-year-old Oscar was introduced to his puppy, Elvis, his life changed.Oscar is on the autistic spectrum and had previously struggled to maintain friendships but his cockapoo therapy dog filled that gap, said his mother, Natallie Cobden.But 11-month-old Elvis was stolen last week in a raid on a boarding kennel in Derbyshire. Cobden, 33, from Derby, is distraught and has not been able to tell her son and his four-year-old sister that their beloved pet has been taken.“What Elvis does with Oscar, they’re like two peas in a pod,” she said. “He didn’t have any friends, Elvis was like his buddy, Oscar would get him, they became really bonded.”

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Former Michael Vick dogs, Sox and Hector, are certified therapy dogs. They now spend their days cheering up people at hospitals, nursing homes, and schools.

Oscar and his sister with Elvis.Oscar and his sister with Elvis, who was stolen from kennels along with two other dogs. Photograph: Natallie Cobden
Elvis was stolen from Brookfield Farm kennels near Derby between 6pm on 3 August and 6am on 4 August. He had stayed there twice previously and was supposed to be there until 7 August while the family were holidaying in the Lake District.The thieves stole Elvis and Tony, both cockapoos, and Remy, a cocker spaniel – and ignored 15 other dogs, which suggests they knew what they were looking for.“My whole world has been turned upside down,” Cobden said. “There’s a side of me that feels super-angry and feels violated. There’s another side of me that is guilty because I left him there. There’s another side as a parent that I’ve let my children down.

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“I’m completely determined that I’ll never stop till I get him home. But it’s the unknown. There’s thoughts in my head: is he being fed, watered, safe, is he being abused, is he in a puppy farm, is he being sold on to someone already, who has seen the posts?”

She plans to tell Oscar and his sister when they return from their break. “There’s a fine line of telling the absolute truth and wording it in a way that we don’t scare him,” she said. “When I talk to him I’ll tell him he’s been stolen by some bad people. And just follow their lead.”

Parrots, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), are the nation’s fourth most popular pet; according to a 2012 survey conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 3.1 percent of U.S. households owned birds. Some parrots can scream as loud as an ambulance siren. These birds are beautiful, but they’re difficult to care for and require lots of space, so the HSUS doesn’t recommend keeping them as pets at all.

Derbyshire police have appealed for more information and witnesses, while the family is being supported by the DogLost charity.