A gamekeeper has claimed the Met Police are refusing to hand over his stolen dog after she was seized by officers during a raid on a Traveller site.
Jon Gaunt, 45, who is head gamekeeper at Brightling Park, in East Sussex, said he recognised his springer spaniel among 49 dogs recovered during a raid in Orpington, south London, six weeks ago.
Officers said her chip was removed by the thieves. He then contacted the force about the animal, who he is referring to as Tilly to stop thieves learning her real name, but they at first refused to do a DNA test on her.
The dog’s DNA would be compared with a sample Mr Gaunt retrieved from the breeder. He went on to contact a solicitor to order the police to cooperate, but ‘nothing has happened’ since, despite a month passing.
Henry Grissell, who owns Brightling Park, said the police hadn’t yet let Mr Gaunt see Tilly. He told The Times: ‘Jon said, “I know from the markings — that’s my dog”.’ Mr Gaunt had five dogs, three of which were stolen in May. Thieves broke the padlock on his kennels to take them.
One of the springer spaniels was found wandering the streets of Orpington weeks later, and the third remains missing. He believes sharing their names will make it easier for the thieves to sell them.
He previously told the BBC: ‘It wasn’t until the next morning, when I went to exercise the dogs, clean them out and give them their breakfast,
I saw the chain hanging down and I just had that horrible feeling. ‘You have such a rollercoaster of emotions — you feel like somebody has just taken your legs out from underneath you.
The demand for puppies was so high, it drove prices through the roof and that’s why we’re in this situation.’ Dog thefts have soared amid the pandemic, with most being forced to breed after they’re stolen.
The Kennel Club reported a 168% increase in searches for puppies online between the beginning of lockdown and end of May, compared to the same period in 2019
Mr Gaunt strongly believes the high demand for puppies is what led to his three dogs being stolen.
The Met Police are currently working with Bromley Council, who started an investigation into offences under breeding regulations when the dogs were seized. A spokesperson said they are looking into Mr Gaunt’s case