Get involved: Send pictures, video, news and views - text NEWS SHOPPER to 80360 or email us
New Eltham dog theft - Bexley and Eltham owners reunited with pets
COLD-HEARTED thieves stole a van with a pair of dogs in the back before leaving them to fend for themselves on the street.
Vets have told the pets' owners that a broken leg and bruised eye caused to one of the dogs - black Labradoodle Henry - could have come from being kicked or hit with an object.
The thieves seized their chance on February 26 at around 6pm when a van belonging to a dog walking service stopped in Avery Hill Road, New Eltham.
As the driver dropped one animal home, two men climbed inside the vehicle and sped off towards the university campus - with Henry and 11-year-old grey Weimaraner Sonny still in the back.
Madelaine Caplin, aged 53, of Earlshall Road, Eltham, said: "It was just awful. I know it sounds ridiculous because he's a dog, but he's a family member.
"We were very worried because we didn't know whether they knew if the dogs were in the van or not. Would they throw them out, or hurt them or leave them locked up inside?"
Shortly after News Shopper appealed for information on our website the following day, the dogs were found. Sonny was discovered near a railway line at Elmstead Woods while an injured Henry was roaming around a Beckenham allotment.
Joanna Harding, aged 41, of Pengarth Road, Bexley, has had Sonny for nine years, and said she "sobbed hysterically" when her pet was taken.
She said: "We think Sonny ran off when he got the chance but the other one had a kicking."
Ms Harding, who said neighbours came to visit the popular dog when he was returned, added: "I'm so relieved to be honest, the thoughts that went through my mind when he was taken.
"Actually, it just hows you how kind people are, that they will look after a dog when they find them."
But both women are still eager for the thieves to be caught.
Ms Caplin said: "They've showed no compassion at all. What they did to the person who owns the van is horrendous.
"If they didn't take the van to take the dogs they could have dealt with them in a more humane way
"The distress and stress it caused to the family is overwhelming really.
"If someone can catch them that would be great. They shouldn't be allowed to get away with this."
Police say the van was a white Peugeot with the registration YB03 FOD.
There have been no arrests so far.
If you can help call police on 101.