Stolen Belfast ransom dog Tiny reunited with owner Stephen Flynn
Owner's relief after ransomed 'Tiny' is returned to her west Belfast home
A dog owner is delighted to be reunited with his pet just as he started to lose all hope of seeing the stolen Staffordshire terrier ever again.
Stephen Flynn (22) told the Belfast Telegraph he was overwhelmed after Tiny was returned to his west Belfast home.
The three-year-old Staffordshire terrier was stolen in the early hours of New Year's Day as Stephen was drinking with friends in the garden following a celebratory night out.
He was left distraught by the theft, as he feared that Tiny had been stolen by a dog fighting gang.
But in a bizarre twist he received a ransom demand for £200 to ensure the safe return of his pet.
"I am so happy, I just can't believe it," he said.
"I felt empty when I realised she had been taken.
"I thought I would never see her again."
It emerged that someone claiming to be "a friend" of the person who had taken Tiny made contact with Stephen to arrange a handover.
And last night Stephen's mum Catrina, accompanied by a friend, went to an agreed location to collect the animal.
Not many words were exchanged and he has been advised not to disclose any information.
No money was exchanged for Tiny's release and Stephen said he believes that the media coverage helped ensure the safe return of the terrier.
"Looking back on it, I am just glad that I put out an appeal on Facebook, because I wasn't going to," he said.
"The impact of it has been unbelievable. I think it made whoever is responsible realise that they weren't going to get away with it."
Stephen said that after news of the kidnapping got out, he was unable to contact the phone number from which the ransom request had been made. He then received distressing threats.
The dog lover worried that any hope of a happy ending had been ruined.
"Our hopes weren't really that high. We had a lot of doubt and didn't think we were going to get her back, especially after the way things went on Tuesday.
"It turned a bit nasty after it made the news and took off on social media, but now I think that's what really helped get her back," he said.
Stephen previously said he had been tempted to pay the money, but instead opted to notify the police. Although still disturbed by the twisted theft and ransom demand, he is overjoyed to have Tiny back.
"I am just happy that I have her back.
"Everything is sorted, but obviously there is still the police matter. After all, someone has broken into the house to do this," he said.
The terrified terrier returned to her Lagmore home "a bit timid" after the ordeal but quickly bounced back.
Tiny is now back to her larger than life self.
Mr Flynn said: "When she walked in the door she was whimpering and crying a wee bit, but she quickly came around."
Tiny arrived back home at 7pm last night and was given a good feed. She spent the rest of the evening playing around the house with her ball.