Stolen pets freed from squalid ‘jail’
TWO stolen pets were found trapped in a “dog prison” at a West Lancashire farm after a frantic search.
African mastiff Walter and blind St Bernard Betty were taken during a burglary at a Lancaster stables on November 25, leaving owner Deniqua Westwood devastated.
A small amount of riding equipment was also taken, though thousands of pounds worth was left behind – leaving Deniqua to believe it was a targeted raid.
Deniqua, who sells horses for a living, launched a Facebook campaign for information about the theft which was shared thousands of times, and also offered a £20,000 reward for the their safe return.
During the initial appeal she said that she believed the dogs must have been drugged to get them off the stables. A large wheelbarrow, possibly used to move them, was found near the exit.
After the appeal was launched, two dog walkers tipped Deniqua off that they had seen two dogs on a farm near Appley Bridge, leading to the discovery of the pets in squalid conditions.
After driving to the derelict Richardson’s Farm, off Finch Lane, she found the pets trapped in a tiny space with a small bowl of water and surrounded by their own excrement.
Another dog was also cramped into the cold cell – which had been created by blocking a small space off with a wooden board – and has now been reunited with its owner.
Plans to develop the farm were approved by West Lancashire Borough Council last year, though the buildings on the site remain boarded up and disused.
After being reunited with her pets, Deniqua has now told of her emotional journey with son Jack to reclaim them.
She said: “I drove down there and found myself going down a long deserted track into a foresttype area. At the bottom was a dead end with a big derelict farm all boarded up.
“I jumped out the car and whistled, nothing. I thought I’d been set up.
“I shouted ‘Walter’ and heard a bark. It was Walter’s bark.
“I jumped the locked-up gates and Walter comes flying out of the back of the building with blind Betty following behind. I cannot begin to describe what I was feeling. I tried to pick Walter up to get him over the gate and couldn’t lift him. With that both dogs winched themselves under the gate and straight into the back of my car.
“I had to reverse all the way up the tiny lane all the way thinking someone was going to come in a minute and take them from me with Jack still in the car. As soon as I got onto the road I was crying tears of unimaginable happiness.
“My dogs were in my car. I took them home and returned back to look for the other missing dog local to where mine were stolen. I had a good root around and rang the missing dog’s owner where he came to meet me.
“My dogs had been kept in a tiny boxroom full of excrement with just a bucket of water. You could see where Walter must have bust the bottom door off to get out. Whoever stole my dogs wanted to keep them alive and well hidden. It was a total hellhole in there.’’
Deniqua added: “The couple who notified me of the sighting of my dogs will forever be in my heart and I owe them a lifetime of gratitude.”