Belfast Telegraph

Dog-napper shamed into giving Pepsi back thanks to a little yelp from Twitter

BY FLORA BRADLEY-WATSON

Meet Pepsi, a cute little pup who is now back in safe hands after a dog-napping ordeal thanks to the power of social media.

The nine-week-old cocker spaniel/Labrador cross – known as a cockador – was stolen from his home at Streamvale Open Farm in east Belfast.

But a widespread online campaign led to little Pepsi's safe return – much to the relief of its owners.

The story began on Saturday when a male visitor to the open farm took Pepsi for a walk.

Visitors to the popular family attraction are able to take the dogs out for exercise – but this time the motive was more sinister.

Judith Morrow, who lives and works on the farm, said: "It was a horrible empty feeling when it began to dawn on me that the puppy hadn't been misplaced, but had been stolen.

"You hear all these horrible things about people stealing dogs from puppy farms."

Judith quickly launched the Twitter and Facebook campaign to find Pepsi, and was overwhelmed by the support.

"There were literally hundreds and thousands of people contacting us saying that they were going to look out for him," she said.

"Eventually the person who took him sent us a private message on Facebook to say that he didn't know what the fuss was about, and that he was going to look after the dog.

"He said that because everyone was getting so 'het up' he would bring it back."

The Morrows arranged to meet up with the man who had stolen Pepsi at their local park on Saturday evening.

"My daughter's boyfriend went down to Moat Park and the man was by the goalposts. When they stopped walking the fella ran off, and they picked up the dog."

Judith said that they would not be pressing charges against the dog-napper.

"We don't know who he was. At the end of the day he has done the right thing, so we were happy enough. We don't want to make a big fuss," she said.

"He took the dog because he really wanted a puppy and thought he couldn't afford one. He wasn't going to do any harm to the dog."

Pepsi will now be going to a new home in Belfast.

"He is going to a family with two children who are delighted to have him. They live in Belfast, so we will get to see him a lot. We know the family very well," said Judith.

She added that she will now be much more careful about allowing people to walk the dogs on the farm.

"We are going to have to be tighter on our service of allowing people to walk the dogs but we will still let them. It has never happened before and will hopefully never happen again," she said.

Streamvale Open Farm was opened to the public in December 1987 by the Morrow family, who have farmed there for nine generations.

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