The Wexford Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (WSPCA) is warning pet owners to be vigilant in the run-up to Christmas following an attempted 'dognapping' in the Rosslare area.
Brigid Cullen of the WSPCA outlined the shocking incident in which two men challenged a woman walking her dog on the morning of Monday week last.
The woman had adopted the dog, an abandoned cross-breed, from the WSPCA about a year ago; the dog is licensed and micro-chipped to her. She was walking the main road with the dog, in broad daylight, when a white van pulled up beside her with two men inside.
Ms Cullen explained: 'They told her that the dog belonged to their children and had been missing for three weeks. She told them she'd had the dog for much longer than that. They stopped and got out of the van, still trying to tell her that the dog was theirs.'
Ms Cullen said the dog became afraid and the woman was concerned that it would slip its neck from the collar and run onto the road. She held onto the dog and insisted that the dog was hers but told Ms Cullen that she felt intimidated by the two men.
Managing to hold the dog, she walked away from them and continued towards her home. However, the two men got back in the van and followed her.
When the woman got home, she called her husband and son, and another man who was visiting the house.
'They told these two men that the dog was theirs, but said that if it would help to sort the matter they would meet the two men at either the Garda Station or the WSPCA office so each could present documentation of ownership. They contacted the Gardai and us but these men never turned up.'
Ms Cullen said a similar incident had happened in Wexford town about two years ago; on that occasion a neighbour of the dog walker stepped in to assist.
'We are always telling people to get their dog microchipped and have a collar with a contact number. If people are going away, don't ever leave your dog outside thinking they'll be OK. In the run-up to Christmas there is usually an increase in such incidents so people need to be vigilant.'
She also made an appeal to people not to buy puppies from unauthorised sellers, making the point that, in most cases, the sellers met the person in a car park and did not provide proper ownership paperwork. In many cases, people paid big money for dogs that were badly bred or, sometimes, extremely weak and sick.