Two dogs who are best friends from separate owners went missing on the same walk in Richmond on Tuesday and are suspected to have been stolen.
Pip, an Irish Terrier, and Vinnie, a French Bulldog, were being walked in Palewell Park, Sheen, by a dog walker at 9:30am.
Pip and Vinnie have been inseparable ever since meeting at doggy daycare.
Pip’s owner, Tim Flett, 42, said: “When in day care they literally just want to be with each other. They’re almost like the Bonnie and Clyde of dogs.”
Vinnie’s owner, Dan Higginson, 42, added: “They’re best pals. I don’t think it was a surprise they both went missing together.”
The two were last seen playing in Beverly Brook, which runs from Barnes into Richmond Park.
Flett, a global account manager, said: “We tried so hard to keep her safe.
“It’s like losing a love one. Seeing her toys and her bedding is heart-wrenching.”
Higginson, who works in commercial real estate, added: “French Bulldogs can be quite lazy, but Vinnie could walk all day if he could.
“He’s our little boy, really.”
Flett described 1-year-old Pip as a happy, excitable dog, while Higginson described 2-year-old Vinnie as very playful.
The owners’ said the two played all the time before they went missing in Sheen.
Flett said: “Suddenly, the dog walker could no longer hear the dogs playing.
“No one had seen them being taken. They’d just vanished.”
The owners searched until midnight with the help of a network of dog walkers, dog trainers, members of the public, and business owners.
The pair also advertised on Dog Lost.
Flett and Higginson strongly suspect the dogs have been stolen.
Flett said: “During Covid-19 the cost of puppies has increased exponentially and this is driving this crime wave of people stealing dogs.
“These dogs are then mistreated, put into breeding farms if they aren’t neutered, or being sold on the black market through what appear to be legitimate sites.”
Flett added that the dogs are then advertised as no longer loved and in need of being rehomed.
He said: “This is a heinous crime that is happening.
“We don’t want to see other people experiencing the same anguish we are.”
Both dogs have been neutered, so Flett stressed that criminals would have nothing to gain from trying to breed them.
Higginson added: “I’m not interested in getting anyone in trouble now.
“I just want him back home.
“I’d more than match what anyone would get by selling them.”
Higginson is asking people to check around their gardens in case the dogs are hiding or stuck.
A similar dog theft in Isleworth last month ended in a happy reunion.
Contact Dan 07808 819 817 or Tim on 07977 512 143 with any information.
Update: Both dogs were sadly found deceased.