An owner was devastated after her puppy went missing just a week after bringing it home – now a stranger who claims to have found the pup is refusing to give it back.
Melissa Baylis, 17, claims a stranger contacted her family on Facebook to let her know the puppy had been found.
The nine-week-old puppy went missing on November 23, leaving Melissa distraught.
Melissa believes her puppy was stolen, after the Jack Russell Chihuahua Maltese cross was last seen in the garden at her home on Marlborough Street in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, at around 12pm.
Initially she thought her pup might have escaped through a gap in the fence.
She later realised the gap was only around three-fingers wide – and that a bin in her garden had moved.
Melissa now believes her pet might have been stolen. She has reported her missing dog to police, reports Manchester Evening News.
After sharing a missing appeal on Facebook, Melissa said her mum received a message on Facebook from a complete stranger.
The woman claimed Nelly had been found, but that she would not give the dog back.
Instead, the woman said in her message she intended to find the animal a 'safe, caring home'.
Melissa said she sent pictures of the puppy being fed at a house, before the stranger deleted her Facebook account.
The message, seen by the Manchester Evening News read: "I believe you have lost your puppy. On 21.11.20 approximately 1pm your puppy was found roaming around Ashton-under-Lyne.
"The puppy was found safe and due to irresponsible owners, it has left me no choice to find it a safe, caring home.
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"Please count yourself lucky you have not been reported to the RSPCA."
Melissa said she "can't stop worrying" about Nelly.
The dog had only been with the family for a week before going missing.
"We found out that she was not in the house on Saturday just before 12pm", Melissa told the M.E.N.
"I rang the police and they said we had no evidence about her being stolen, so it couldn't be reported.
"I went around and checked my estate and everywhere."
Melissa had taken a picture of her garden the day before the puppy went missing. She noticed that the following day, a bin had been moved into a different place.
"The only gap that she could have got through was only about three fingers wide," Melissa added.
"I shared about her being missing on Facebook and then the woman sent my mum the message.
"I'm unsure as to whether it was a false account.
"She just sent that one message and then nothing was going through. She deleted her account and we couldn't get in touch so we rang the police again.
"We had only had her for about a week and I can't stop worrying about her."
A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said enquiries into the incident are ongoing.
They asked anyone with information to get in touch.
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In a statement, the spokesperson said: "At around 2.30pm on Saturday 21 November 2020, police were called to reports that a puppy had been stolen from a garden on Marlborough Street in Ashton-Under-Lyne.
"No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing."
A spokesperson from the RSPCA said: “This sounds very distressing for the owner of the puppy. As an animal welfare charity the RSPCA doesn’t deal directly with pet theft – leaving criminal matters such as this to the expertise of police.
“We’d urge all dog owners to take extra precautions to protect their pooches from thieves by neutering their pets, ensuring they are microchipped with up-to-date contact details registered, ensuring they wear a collar with contact details embroidered or an engraved ID tag."
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting incident number 1698 or 21/11/20; or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
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