There has been a fantastic outpouring of public support following the theft of four spaniels from a Hampshire shooting school.
The animals, all bitches, were taken during a night-time raid two weeks ago at Lains Shooting School at Quarley, to the west of Andover.
There is still no sign of Diva, a one year old liver and white springer, Fudge, a three years old golden cocker, Maggie, aged six months, a black cocker with a white bib and white on her nose and Poppy, again six months but this time golden. She is Fudge’s daughter.
Thieves drove across fields to reach their kennels and even though alarms triggered immediately Lains owner Howard Kirby, who lives on site, was unable to prevent the thieves driving off with the four spaniels.
“It was literally a nightmare,” says Howard. “I went out to find dogs everywhere as the thieves had just cut their way through a wire enclosure and opened several kennels, setting free many other dogs. I had to find all of them to ascertain what animals were missing.”
Since the raid, Howard has had many telephone calls of support and some people who he has never even met before have taken the trouble to come to the shooting school to suggest places he might look.
“We have been checking out different locations but so far there is no sign of the spaniels, which is heartbreaking as they were all pets as well as working dogs,” added Howard.
“People planning on buying a spaniel should be wary of young bitches they are offered cheap – they might not be our dogs but could have been stolen elsewhere and moved around the country. I’m sure these thieves are very organised.
“Likewise, people should remember this episode going forward when they are offered puppies for sale. The thieves only wanted bitches of breeding age and the brutal reality is that they may be used to breed puppies for sale. Buyers should check the provenance of all young spaniels they are offered.”
There is still a £4,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the spaniels and the apprehension of the offenders. Since the theft, Howard has increased security at Lains. All possible access is now covered by CCTV and alarms.