Paul O'Grady appeals for help for Kent owner's stolen pug

image copyrightFamily Handout
image captionAnn Cowlard has had a mini-stroke which she said she thought was brought on by the stress and heartbreak of losing Dora

Presenter and dog-lover Paul O'Grady has issued an appeal to help reunite an owner with her pug that was grabbed and stolen during a daily walk.

Ann Cowlard, 72, was walking 11-year-old Dora on Wednesday near their home in Lydd, Kent.

She said a white man in a hat and face mask approached, bent down and said "oh what a lovely dog", before detaching Dora's lead and running off with her.

On Instagram Paul O'Grady said dog theft was "one of the lowest crimes".

image copyrightFamily Handout
image captionPaul O'Grady took to Instagram to appeal for anybody with information to come forward

Mrs Cowlard, who has a lung condition, said she gave chase but could not keep up with the man.

'All she's known'

She has since suffered a mini stoke, which she said she believed was brought on by "the stress and the heartbreak".

The former dog-trainer bred Dora herself and said: "I'm all Dora has ever known. She's getting on now and I don't know how she'll cope away from me.

"You mind runs wild. What are they doing to her? I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy."

Dora is partially deaf and has been spayed, but is a small dog and Mrs Cowlard said she believed whoever took her may have mistaken her for a puppy.

Dog Lost, the UK's largest lost and found dog service, has issued an appeal for Dora, who is microchipped.

image copyrightFamily Handout
image captionDora (circled) was one of the pugs Mrs Cowlard bred

According to its records throughout January and February 96 dogs were officially reported stolen to local police forces.

That is almost double the figure over the same period last year, at 55.

Karen Harding, from Dog Lost, attributed the national surge in dog thefts to lockdown and the subsequent high price of puppies.

PC Martyn Tulk from Kent Police's volunteer canine team said dog thefts had only increased "very slightly" since 2019 in the county, "but we can't ignore the fact that countrywide dog thefts have risen significantly over the last year".

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