‘Dognapping’ drama

Two Howick families are embroiled in a dognapping drama that could see one of them facing a possible criminal charge.

At the centre of the drama is Freddie, a fluffy Scottish terrier cross Schnauzer, who was kidnapped from his family home on August 17, allegedly by the dog’s previous owners.

Julie-ann Hamar and Robin Werner told The Witness on Monday that they adopted Freddie and gave him a new home more than three years ago.

That was after the canine was confiscated from its previous owners, who could no longer take care of him.

Now it is alleged that the former owners have resurfaced and are alleged to be behind Freddie’s recent “dognapping”.

People masquerading as patients wanting to see Werner, who is a doctor of natural medicine, got Freddie into their car last weekend and drove off with the dog.

Hamar, who was not at home at the time, said the family of three arrived at their house and spoke to their domestic worker.

“When the domestic worker opened the gate, a man came out of the car and asked to see Robin.

“He came in for a minute and then left saying he would phone Robin later.

“During that time, the gate had been opened and from what we understand the family who were left in the car called Freddie to them.”

Hamar said when the domestic worker got to the gate to let the man out, she noticed that Freddie was not inside the yard.

“He’s very good, he doesn’t just run out,” said Werner.

As the family drove off, a car door swung open and the domestic worker spotted the pooch with the couple’s teenage son holding him.

She managed to note down the vehicle’s number plate as it drove off with Freddie, before alerting the homeowners that their dog had been abducted.

A wild goose chase between Hillcrest and Howick then ensued.

The registration of the vehicle led the couple to the previous owner of the vehicle in Gillitts, who assisted the dog lovers with the address of the new owner in Howick. There they found a crowd of people already waiting outside who had responded to Facebook posts about the missing dog.

“There were about eight vehicles when we arrived at that house. People who love animals and are concerned about the dog fighting rings came out of the woods to help us find Freddie.

“We were afraid that Freddie could possibly be used in dog fighting circles as bait,” said Hamar.

Werner said at first, the horrified homeowner in Gillitts refused to open the gate.

“When she eventually came out, she told us she had sold the vehicle over a month ago to somebody in Howick South. Luckily she had the name and the address and we were able to track him.”

The couple drove back to Mpophomeni to look for the new address.

When they arrived at the house a quick thinking friend, who was helping the couple to look for the Freddie, asked if he could use the loo.

“He went inside the house and saw Freddie in one of the rooms. It was our friend’s forward and bold thinking that helped us to retrieve our precious Freddie.”

Werner said while he understood that the family may have been driven by the love they have for Freddie, they had gone about it the wrong way.

“The way they did it was very cruel ... We would have let them play with Freddie had they knocked on the door.”

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said a case of theft had been opened.

Police are currently in the process of taking more statements and to date no-one has appeared in court.

The 47-year-old suspect was briefly detained but was released pending investigations.