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Cambridge widow’s despair after her three dogs are stolen amid spate of pet thefts

A widow whose three dogs were stolen at the weekend has told how she has “nothing left to look forward to” now they are gone.

Mary Goldsmith, 73, from Cambridge, had left her three dogs, Grace, Holly and Alice, overnight at Cosy Kennels in Stretham so she could visit her goddaughter.

Mary Goldsmith's dog, Alice
Mary Goldsmith's dog, Alice

But that weekend she received a call from the kennels’ owner to say thieves had cut the fences at the site in the night and taken her pets.

Mary, who lives alone since her husband passed away four years ago, told the Cambridge Independent: “My dogs are priceless to me. They are my life. They are keeping me going. Other than that, what have I got to look forward to? I have no husband nor children. Luckily, I have lovely friends and family and two goddaughters. But my dogs are my babies.”

Police issued a warning to pet owners to be alert.

Since May, 17 dogs have been stolen across the county, with incidents in Bluntisham, Horningsea, Stow-cum-Quy and Wilburton and an attempted theft in Haddenham. Over recent months, dog prices have significantly increased and have prompted concerns around a rise in theft.

In the Stretham case, thieves cut fencing to get inside the Cambridge Road kennels in the early hours of Sunday (July 12) and took Mrs Goldsmith’s three dogs.

Mary Goldsmith, whose three dogs were stolen from Cosy Kennels in Stretham
Mary Goldsmith, whose three dogs were stolen from Cosy Kennels in Stretham

Grace is a pedigree West Highland terrier with white hair, Holly is a Jack Russell cross Chihuahua with white and brown hair and a large lump under her belly, and Alice, pictured, is a schnauzer cross Chihuahua with light brown and black hair and dewclaws on both her back feet.

Mrs Goldsmith said: “Paul, who runs the kennels, told me he checked on all the dogs at midnight and went to see them again at 7am. That’s when he found two dogs had been let out of their kennels but not taken but my three had gone.

“The thieves had cut a hole in the fence and walked through. He has no CCTV cameras but he said the place has been running for 18 years and it has never happened before.

“My goddaughter just burst into tears and her sister did too.

“It’s so upsetting that people have taken these dogs. They don’t know how to look after them.

“Holly doesn’t look 11 years old. My worst fear is they will try and breed from her when she is far too old to do that. I hope people will look out for my dogs because they all have distinguishing features.”

The thefts have also affected pet owners over the county border in Suffolk, where 17 dogs and puppies were stolen in Barton Mills from the Fiveways Boarding Kennels and Cattery on Thursday, July 9.

Mary Goldsmith's dog, Holly
Mary Goldsmith's dog, Holly

Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Detective Inspector Chris O’Brien said: “Dogs are often part of the family and every theft is absolutely devastating for owners. With more people working from home and finding themselves with extra time, the demand for dogs has soared across the country.

“However, this has in turn resulted in huge increases in prices which has sadly led to criminals taking advantage of the situation by stealing dogs in an attempt to sell them on at a high price.”

It is thought the figure of 17 theft could be much higher with victims using lost dog websites to find their pets instead of reporting the thefts to police.

Mary Goldsmith's dog, Grace
Mary Goldsmith's dog, Grace

Det Insp O’Brien added: “I would urge all owners to report stolen dogs to us.

“On some occasions we have found the dogs and been able to reunite them with their owners. Also take extra precautions to help deter thieves and protect your pets.”

Dog owners are advised by the police to:

  • Keep an ID tag on your dog at all times;
  • Lock gates using bolts at the top and bottom, along with a heavy-duty padlock;
  • Ensure there are no places where dogs or other animals can escape or be pulled through if they are left in a back garden;
  • Never leave a pet in the garden unattended;
  • Fit a bell or gate alarm so it makes a sound when someone opens it;
  • Purchase a driveway alarm so you are alerted to any visitors – these can also be used in rear gardens;
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped and their details are updated so that they can be returned if they are stolen and subsequently found;
  • Avoid leaving a dog tied up outside a shop or left alone in a car, even for a few minutes;
  • Take lots of photographs of your dog to prove ownership if it’s stolen and then found; and
  • Report dog theft to police straight away.

Anyone with information about a stolen dog, or suspicious behaviour, can report it to police on 101 or online at cambs.police.uk/report.

Owners should also consider reporting the theft to the local authority dog warden, notifying the microchip database provider, and reporting the theft to doglost.co.uk or their Facebook page as they coordinate thefts for each county and offer advice and support.

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