A stranger has allegedly contacted the family of a missing puppy claiming to have found the pet but refuses to return it, labelling the owners “irresponsible”.
Melissa Baylis, 17, was heartbroken to find nine-week-old Nelly – a Jack Russell Chihuahua Maltese cross – had disappeared from her garden in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, last Saturday.
The teenager is convinced the puppy was stolen after noticing a bin had been moved, with the only gap in the fence three-fingers wide.
After going to the police and posting an appeal on Facebook, Melissa’s mum was sent an odd message on the social media site from a woman who then deleted her account.
The message, seen by the MEN, read: “I believe you have lost your puppy. On 21.11.20 approximately 1pm your puppy was found roaming around Ashton-under-Lyne.
“The puppy was found safe and due to irresponsible owners, it has left me no choice to find it a safe, caring home.
“Please count yourself lucky you have not been reported to the RSPCA.”
Melissa said she “can’t stop worrying” about Nelly.
The dog had only been with the family for a week before going missing.
“We found out that she was not in the house on Saturday just before 12pm”, Melissa said.
“I rang the police and they said we had no evidence about her being stolen, so it couldn’t be reported.
“I went around and checked my estate and everywhere.”
Melissa had taken a picture of her garden the day before the puppy went missing. She noticed that the following day, a bin had been moved into a different place.
“The only gap that she could have got through was only about three fingers wide,” Melissa added.
“I shared about her being missing on Facebook and then the woman sent my mum the message.
“I’m unsure as to whether it was a false account.
“She just sent that one message and then nothing was going through. She deleted her account and we couldn’t get in touch so we rang the police again.
“We had only had her for about a week and I can’t stop worrying about her.”
A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said enquiries into the incident are ongoing.
They asked anyone with information to get in touch.
In a statement, the spokesperson said: “At around 2.30pm on Saturday 21 November 2020, police were called to reports that a puppy had been stolen from a garden on Marlborough Street in Ashton-Under-Lyne.
“No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing.”
A spokesperson from the RSPCA said ordeal sounds “very distressing” for the owner and the pet and urged people to take extra precautions to protect their dogs.
They said getting your pet neutered and microchipped, as well as ensuring they have a collar with contact details are essential.
They also advised owners to never leave pets tied up outside shops or alone in cars and to ensure gardens are secured with locked gates.
The spokesperson added owners must train their dogs to have a “good recall” and to not let them “stray too far when off-lead on walks”.
“Anyone who suspects their dog may have been stolen should immediately alert police, contact their microchip company to register their pet as stolen and inform local rescue groups, vets, dog walkers and neighbours.”