Worried owner of kidnapped dog being held for £200 ransom in appeal as PSNI confirms it is investigating
A heartbroken west Belfastman has appealed for the safe return of his three-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier amid claims that she has been kidnapped.
Stephen Flynn said his family received a message that his pet Tiny had been stolen and that she would be released after the payment of a £200 ransom.
Stephen (22) said the dog vanished from his home in White Rise, Lagmore, in the early hours of New Year's Day.
He added: "I was in town for the New Year celebrations and when I got home my friends and I had a drink, but several hours later we realised that Tiny was gone.
"I thought initially that she'd got out of the house somehow and that a door had maybe been left open.
"So, along with a number of friends and relatives, I started to search the nearby streets for her, but we couldn't find her."
However, Stephen said the dog's disappearance took a sinister twist after the family received a message from someone claiming to be an intermediary.
"They said that they had been contacted by the people who had the dog and they would return her if we paid £200," he explained.
It's not clear if the message was genuine or a hoax.
But no ransom was handed over and Stephen posted a message on his Facebook page about the dog's disappearance and pleaded for help in tracking her down.
The post read: "My dog went missing in the early hours of the morning from our back garden. If anyone's seen her can you contact me please. Her name's Tiny, she's friendly and would go to anyone."
Stephen's post has had over 500 'shares'. In a subsequent message Stephen said he still had no news of Tiny. He added: "Dreading the news of what might've happened. I really do appreciate the amount of support we've had over this."
Yesterday morning Stephen's hopes were raised after reports that a Staffordshire bull terrier had been found wandering on the Falls Road.
However, it was later established that the dog was not Tiny.
Stephen said he wanted his dog to be returned as soon as possible.
"I've had her since she was a pup. And her mother was ours too," he said.
"Tiny is a very sociable wee thing and she would be all over you."
He added: "We are all very fond of her and everyone wants her back."
As well as social media, Stephen and his family have produced a number of flyers appealing to the public for their help in finding Tiny.
The police spoke to the Flynn family yesterday afternoon.
A PSNI spokeswoman said its enquiries were ongoing.
"Police can confirm that a report was received of a dog theft from a house in the White Rise area of Dunmurry," she said.
"It is reported that the dog, a young female Staffordshire bull terrier, was stolen sometime between 5.30pm on Saturday, December 31 and 7am on Sunday, January 1."