A DISTRAUGHT dog owner fears his two pets may have been stolen to take part in an illegal fighting ring.
John Storey’s dogs, Cooper, a Border-cross Patterdale terrier, and Riley, a full Patterdale terrier, were stolen from his back yard in the early hours of Monday.
The 51-year-old says his the dogs were “like part of the family” and he and his wife and three children are heartbroken following the theft.
John, who works for Nissan, and lives in Pentland Close, in Peterlee, said: “They were just family pets.
“But we are worried that they may have been stolen to be put in to fight with pit bulls.
“If we don’t get them back within 48 hours, we think that’s what’s probably happened to them.
“I would say I’m 90 per cent positive they have been taken for that purpose. Patterdales are targeted for that.”
John, who is married to Karen, also 51, who works for the Inland Revenue in Peterlee, said his son, Jordon, 20, was particularly heartbroken.
John, who is also dad to Peter, 26, said his daughter, Jennifer, 23, had been awoken by voices at 4am, around the time of the theft, but she assumed it was Jordon talking to the dogs, who have been with the family since birth.
Cooper, a male dog who is three-years-old, has scars on each side of his neck and a brown and white patch on the end of his tail.
Riley, a male dog who is aged two-and-a-half, has a short stubby tail and no dewclaws, which are the claws near a dog’s ankle.
Peterlee Police are investigating the theft of the dogs, which were taken from their kennels.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0345 6060365 and ask for PC Phil Gardner or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.