AN UPSET dog owner is appealing for information after five chihuahuas and a pug were stolen from her back garden by heartless thieves.
The pets were taken from a purpose-built pen at Kathleen Owen's home on Springfield Road, Kilnhurst, Rotherham, where the dogs were being kept overnight.
Kathleen, aged 58, believes the theft was planned in advance, and says she is worried for the welfare of her much-loved dogs, one of which is worth 1,000.
"They just don't know what they've stolen," said Kathleen, who works nights at the residential Fullerton House School in Denaby, Doncaster, which caters for youngsters with autism and learning difficulties.
"How can people do this? Do they not understand the love people put into their animals?"
Kathleen said the dogs were being kept in the padlocked, wooden pen because she is keeping a litter of four chihuahua puppies in her kitchen.
"I have a lot of pups in the kitchen and can't have any more dogs in the house," she said.
The dogs were put in the pen at around 8.25pm on Tuesday January 4, and Kathleen found them missing when she returned home the following morning.
The stolen pets are a three-year-old female pug - fawn with a black muzzle and black on the tips of her ears - and four female chihuahuas.
The first two are both three. One is ginger with a white chest, another is brown with a black muzzle and ears.
The third stolen chihuahua is two-and-a-half, with a long black coat and tan legs and chest. The fourth stolen chihuahua is 18 months and is ginger with white markings.
Kathleen said the house was empty at the time as her daughter Leanne Owen, 22, was staying at her boyfriend's house.
She said: "A neighbour said he'd heard the sound of dogs barking at around 2am, and looked out of the window but couldn't see anything."
She said police believe the crooks climbed over a six-foot fence at the bottom of her garden, which backs onto a railway.
"They think that's where they've come over, and passed the dogs over the fence."
She said the day before the theft her son Steven Owen, 39, who lives on nearby Kilnhurst Road, spotted three young men on the railway embankment near his mum's house, while the wire on a neighbour's security camera had been cut.
Kathleen said: "It could be people that have watched me and maybe seen they could get a quick sale."
The pug belonged to Leanne, who used birthday money and savings to buy the 1,000 dog.
Kathleen said: "I'm gutted for Leanne, I know she'll never have that money again.
"The ginger chihuahua is pretty rare, you don't often see that colour. She really is a stunning little dog.
"I'm hoping to get them back but, to be honest, I don't really think I'm going to have a chance.
"The feeling of guilt for keeping them outside is just tremendous. For nearly a week I've been walking around in a dream.
"I didn't know things like this could happen. My worst fear is they've been dumped somewhere."
Anyone with information should call Pc Alan Robson at Rawmarsh police station on 0114 2202020.
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