As a freelance journalist I’m often asked by publications to provide case studies to support stories.
Because my niche is pets, if there’s a request about an animal, it’s something I’m really keen to work on.
A few months ago I spoke to the owner of a dog named Holtz who was reunited with her owner after SEVEN years.
When The Sun asked to interview families who had experienced the heartache of dog theft, I put Ruth’s story forward.
Her interview appeared in this article How organised gangs are targeting dogs with valuable breeds being taken at knifepoint.
Having a case study talking about the impact of dogs being stolen makes a story so much more powerful and Ruth’s story is below.
Ruth Kirkby was heartbroken when her English Bulldog Holtz was stolen from her backyard in Tottenham, London in June 2011.
The 18-month-old dog had been outside playing with her other pup, a Jack Russell called Scraps.
Ruth, 34, a pawnbroker, went to check on them and found Holtz had vanished and Scraps trembling in terror.
She recalled: “I couldn’t believe it. The wall was over six feet high. Someone had climbed over and stolen her.
“Poor Scraps was terrified. He ran in the house and refused to go outside for weeks afterwards.
“We called the police and there wasn’t a great lot they could do. There was no CCTV and we were advised to check local shelters and vets in case she was found.
“But I knew she’d been stolen and I was frantic she’d be used as a breeding dog. It was just a few days before we were due to have her spayed.”
Bulldog puppies sell for up to £2,500 and heartbreakingly, Ruth’s fears were right. She didn’t see Holtz until seven years later when the puppy farmers who stole her dumped her by a roadside with an elderly chihuahua.
She was taken to Gorleston Veterinary Hospital in Norfolk – 140 miles away from where she went missing.
When she vanished, Ruth contacted doglost.co.uk, a database for people to register lost and found pets and they advised her to always keep her microchip details up to date.
Vets scanned her and called Ruth and the pair were reunited in May. Ruth said: “They asked, ‘Have you lost your dog today?’ I was dumbstruck.
“I replied, ‘No, she was stolen seven years ago.’ The next day we drove to collect her and she was skin and bone, with long nails, a lump on her leg.
“The vets believe she had pups recently and she had mastitis as she’d been used to breed so many times. She looked so thin and helpless.
“She was used to make money and dumped when she was no use any more. How people could do such a thing beggars belief. It makes me sick.”
Because she was found a week before the Royal Wedding, Ruth renamed her Duchess.
The dog now lives with her sister Joni, 32, as Ruth has young children.
Ruth said: “I didn’t think it was fair for her to be in a noisy house with kids so she lives with my sister and I see her every day.
“Luckily dogs live in the moment so I hope Duchess will forget her past and enjoy the rest of her life with people who love her.”
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