STOLEN scruffball pup Max has been reunited with his owners at a South Yorkshire animal sanctuary - after the thieves who pinched him panicked in a flurry of publicity.
The six-month-old terrier was stolen from his kennel at Thornberry Animal Sanctuary, Dinnington, after his raffish good looks and puppyish charm made him a popular candidate for rehoming.
But staff at the centre were amazed when one of two women who found Max running wild three days later arrived at the centre with the errant pup under their arm.
“It has been very emotional. Everyone has been in tears - though the men here won’t thank me for saying it,” said delighted Thornberry spokeswoman Pauline Cole.
“The ladies found him running free in South Anston. They nearly ran him over on the road. They hadn’t realised he had been stolen, but they knew we were close by so brought him in.”
Pauline thinks the thieves who snatched Max simply abandoned him after The Star reported he had been stolen.
“They must have realised we were after him and let him go,” she said. “The publicity has played a vital role in this.”
Max - a wiry-haired cross between a West Highland terrier and a Cavalier King Charles spaniel - will now be rehomed with a family from Darnall in Sheffield who had been earmarked as his new owners all along.
“We had already found a family for him and carried out all the checks,” Pauline said.
“They were devastated when we told them he had been stolen. Now he’s back he’s hopefully going to be housed with them very soon.”