DESPAIR turned to joy when a dog snatched from outside Tesco on Friday was later spotted playing on a travellers’ site in Gomersal.
Peter Birkby popped into the Cleckheaton store, leaving cocker spaniel Millie tied up outside – but when he came out she had disappeared.
With memories of Jess, the 12-year-old border collie thrown to her death from Mann Dam viaduct after being snatched in similar circumstances in 2009, fresh in his mind, Peter feared the worst.
He said: “I was in Tesco for two minutes, came out and somebody had pinched her. I was gutted. This was only the second time I’d put her outside; she’s only a pup.
“I thought, ‘have we got one of those nutters who would throw her over the viaduct’?”
He alerted staff and police who trawled through CCTV footage which showed a woman and a boy untying Millie.
Meanwhile Peter and his wife and daughter drove around Spen looking for Millie and spotted her with other dogs on Nibshaw Lane playing fields.
He telephoned PCSO Helen Wilde, who said she had got a good description from the footage and also believed they were among the travellers who had been at Nibshaw Lane.
Officers from Spen NPT were dispatched to the site and found several dogs, including Millie, locked in a caravan.
Peter said they were overjoyed to have got Millie back and is urging other pet owners not to leave their dogs tied up outside shops.
Millie has now been fitted with a microchip by the Birkenshaw-based Yorkshire Rose Dog Rescue.
Insp Tim Holland, from Spen NPT, said: “It was excellent work by officers, especially PCSO Wilde. We were fortunate enough to recover the dog and reunite her with her owners.
“We are appealing for all dog owners to microchip their pets.
“We pick up hundreds of dogs each year that we cannot find the owners for, so it’s even more important to get them chipped.”
A 20-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of theft and a nine-year- old boy was questioned. The woman will appear at Kirklees Magistrates Court on May 24.