A beloved pet dog dog that was stolen seven years ago in the North East has been found in Leamington and returned to its owners by Warwickshire Police.
Having responded to reports of dogs running loose on Queensway last Thursday, Pc Natasha Susnik found Molly, a Jack Russell Terrier, running down the road towards her.
Molly was taken to Greys Mallory police station, where it was discovered that she was micro-chipped and her details were still in date.
Pc Susnik then called Molly’s owners Brian and Pauline Berry who live in Houghton, Tyne and Wear - about 200 miles away from Leamington.
They told Pc Susnik Molly was stolen along with her puppies in a burglary in 2008 and had not been seen since.
Mr Berry said: “I couldn’t believe it, I thought there must be a mistake at first. The police said they found her on a travellers’ site along with a lot of other dogs and had scanned her micro-chip.
“I’m just ecstatic now that she’s back home. It’s like having my best friend back after all this time, and I’m never letting her out of my sight again.”
Mr Berry kept Molly, and her sister from the same litter, Megan, in a kennel attached to the garage, and the faithful hounds kept him company every day while he worked.
But four days after Molly had a litter of eight puppies – on August 27, 2008 – Brian went to the kennel to find Megan there alone.
He said: “I went down to give them their morning feed and saw that the locks on the kennel had been broken off.
“At first I thought someone had broken in to pinch my tools, but then I noticed the lock on Molly’s cage was broken and her and the puppies were gone.
“I had a heart condition and the shock knocked the breath out of me and I almost collapsed. A neighbour saw me and helped me back to the house, I just couldn’t believe it.”
The couple, who have two other dogs – Megan’s puppies Charlie, seven, and Shelly, three – got the police involved and searched tirelessly for their pets, putting up posters around the town and even putting an appeal in the Sunderland Echo newspaper.
But as the years went by, Mr Berry began to doubt he would ever see Molly or her puppies again.
However, his luck suddenly changed last week when Warwickshire Police contacted him with the news she had been found.
Molly was moved to a kennel in Rugby, and Mr Berry drove the 190-mile journey on Friday to be reunited with his long-lost friend.
Mr Berry said: “I never really gave up hope that I would find her but I had began to doubt that I would ever see her again. She was three when she was stolen and I’d had her and Megan since they were eight weeks old and they went everywhere with me.
“People always used to laugh at them sat in the front seat of my van and sticking their heads out the window. I used to sit and wonder what had happened to her and if she was OK.
“I wish she could speak so she could tell me where she’s been and what happened to her, but at the same time, I might not like to hear it.”
When Brian was eventually reunited with Molly she was very underweight and had scars all over her face.
But she is already on the mend.
He said: “I was just ecstatic when I saw her – it was quite emotional. I think it took her about ten minutes to realise who I was, but I was just sat stroking her and she started licking my face and I knew that she recognised me and knew then that she was safe.
“Her teeth are rotten and she’s got lumps on her glands, scars on her face and is underweight, but we’ve taken her to a local vet who said it will take time but she’ll be back to her old self soon. She’s starting to show improvement already.”
He added: “There are so many people to thank, the police and the staff at the kennels for getting her back to us and all our friends and family who helped look for her when she went missing.
“The woman police officer who found her had a micro-chip scanner on her and I hope this could lead to all police carrying them.
“I just can’t believe I’ve got her back after all this time. I just want to say to anyone else whose pet has gone missing or been stolen, just never give up hope.”
Warwickshire Police are conducting enquiries into where Molly has been for the past seven years, however no arrests have yet been made.
It is not known what happened to Molly’s puppies.
Pc Susnik said “I would like to thank Warwick Dog warden for her assistance, and for the team at Dunsmore Kennels for looking after Molly while her family made their way down to collect her.
“This story really highlights the importance of getting your pets micro-chipped, and making sure that their details are registered and kept up to date.”