Dog missing for five years found 200 miles from home

Fern Image copyright South Holland District Council
Image caption Fern was reunited with her owners after going missing five years ago

A dog that was missing for five years and possibly stolen by hare coursers has been reunited with its owners after being found in Lincolnshire.

Fern, a whippet cross, was reunited with her family in Tyne and Wear, who were said to be shocked but elated.

Dog warden Rachel Thompson, from South Holland District Council, said: "Fern was found on Holbeach Hurn after she tagged along with another dog walker."

She said luckily Fern was micro-chipped and her owners could be traced.

Ms Thompson said it was possible Fern, who had probably spent a lot of time living outside, had been stolen by hare coursers.

"We do have an element of coursing in the South Holland area, so we can hazard a guess that is how she has ended up here.

"We get a lot of illegal hare coursing and often dogs can be stolen."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Traditionally, hare coursing offences start to rise in the autumn after crops have been harvested

She said in another case a dog from Kent was stolen one day and within 24 hours was in Lincolnshire being used for hare coursing.

"Thankfully, the dog turned out to be rubbish at it, so was left behind."

It too has been reunited with its owner, she added.

Officials are publicising Fern's case to highlight the importance of micro-chipping, which will be compulsory for dog owners from 6 April.

Fern was reunited with her owners at the end of last month.

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