Suspected stolen dog reunited with owners in Sussex

A two-year-old Cocker Spaniel, which was one of ten dogs seized during a search warrant by Sussex Police, has been reunited with her owners.

Willow was found at a site in Surrey on Tuesday, March 16, eight months after she was stolen during a burglary in Suffolk.

On Wednesday (March 24), Willow's owners, who do not wish to be identified, travelled to Sussex to be reunited with their much-cherished pet.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

“We are so delighted to have Willow back home and can’t thank Sussex Police enough for finding her," they said.

Willow, a two-year-old Cocker Spaniel, was one of ten dogs seized by Sussex Police during a search warrant at a site in Surrey. Photo: Sussex Police

"After eight months we thought we would never see her again, and we hope it will give other dog owners faith that they can be found and this is taken seriously."

The search warrant in Surrey was led by Crawley CID with support from the Sussex Rural Crime Team and Surrey Police.

Police confirmed a 30-year-old woman, arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods, has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

The location of the site is not being disclosed for 'operational reasons', police said.

An investigation is currently underway by detectives at Crawley CID, to help identify the remaining dogs and their lawful owners.

Det Chief Inspector John Wallace said: “We are delighted that Willow has been reunited with her owners and is now back home safe where she belongs.

“Following the recovery of Willow, Suffolk Police are looking to explore developments in the burglary investigation and are working closely with Sussex Police to assist us with our ongoing investigation.”

Sussex Police said it has received hundreds of contacts from members of the public desperately searching for their missing pets. The remaining dogs, a mix of Lurchers and Spaniels, continue to be cared for at a secure location.

Det Chief Insp Wallace added: “This is a complex and, likely, lengthy investigation.

"Our priority has been to ensure the health and welfare of the dogs. Some were in a poor state when we found them and are receiving ongoing medical care which also forms part of our investigation.

“We are working through all information meticulously and pursuing other lines of enquiry to progress the identification of those dogs. We will be releasing further information in the coming days to help with that process

“We understand this can be frustrating and appreciate people’s patience knowing that all the dogs are being well cared for.”

In January, Sussex Police launched a dedicated operation ‘Op Collar’, led by the rural crime team, to respond to and help prevent dog thefts.

Anyone with information about their suspected stolen dog is asked to email [email protected]