22 April 2005


Pedigree dogs stolen to order by cruel criminals

Ruthless criminal gang cash in on South Belfast pet owners’ misery by abducting pedigree pets for lucrative dog farming

The USPCA has issued a warning to local dog owners as fears grow that a lucrative pet scam – that is making thousands for criminal gangs every year – has turned its attentions to South Belfast.

Over the past few months pedigree dogs have been abducted from gardens and parks all over South Belfast for what now appears to be a stolen-to-order pet scam.

USPCA, Stephen Philpott said it was a cause for great concern.
“There is a worrying trend here. We haven’t got precise figures for pet abductions but we do know that they’re on the increase.”

One South Belfast man who knows only too well the pain of losing his beloved pet was left devastated following the abduction of his one-year old prize pit bull dog on Sunday night.

Chung Wing of Cusack Street off the Lisburn Road, returned home from work to find that callous thieves had broken in and taken Max, his one-year-old English Pit Bull, believed to be worth an estimated £1,600.

Neighbours confirmed to the police that strangers were lurking about the street all evening.

Mr Wing said: “I am absolutely gutted. Max was only a puppy and I can’t believe that anyone would do this or why.

“I’ve called the police and at first they didn’t know whether to take it seriously then they said they’d look into it but weren’t sure what they could do about it.”

A shaken Mr Wing also said that he feared for Max’s health.
“He’s very ill at the minute. I was due to take him to the vets next morning for a bad skin condition that he has. He won’t get treated now and I am seriously concerned that he will get sick.”

The abduction is the latest in a long line of pedigree pet thefts in the area and something that Chief Executive of the USPCA, Stephen Philpott said was a cause for great concern.

South Belfast is a particular target because of the high numbers of prize pups owned by residents in the Malone and Upper Lisburn Road areas.

“There is a worrying trend here. We haven’t got precise figures for pet abductions but we do know that they’re on the increase.

“These dogs have a very high monetary value and this is something that goes on, not just in Belfast, but right across Northern Ireland.

“Illegal puppy farming is extremely big business these days with some of the dogs fetching up to thousands of pounds.

“There is very little that police can do as they have few facilities to deal with this problem and even though I would recommend that people call us about any incidents like this, I am afraid that Max may even be out of the country now.”

Mr Wing, however, refuses to give up hope.

“I would appeal for anybody who knows anything to please come forward.
“I feel my life has been absolutely shattered. Max and I were so close and I don’t know what to think about the whole thing.

“I haven’t done anything to anyone, why would they do this to me? Words cannot describe how I feel about these people.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the USPCA hotline on 02890 814242. Calls will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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