Widget and Gizmos story

Widget and Gizmos story

The following is the story of the boys theft and the great efforts to try and recover them, which in turn gave me the impetus to start the Vets Get Scanning Appeal.

Tuesday, May 2nd 2006.

I parked my car in the Marks & Spencers car park at The Meadows in Camberley.  Yes, I know now you shouldn’t leave a dog in a car but back then dog theft was just getting started.  I, like my whole family and many friends, had always left a dog in a car, it was never a problem (unless it is a hot day!!) It is a flagship store where the car park is always busy with shoppers; there are also security men and car washers wandering around. Walking back to the car after shopping I could see two men standing by my car!

As I had left the vented roof of the car open, I thought the dogs must be barking like mad, what a strange place to stand! As I got closer I could see there was no reflection from the driver’s window, I started to run towards the men and shouted ‘Are my dogs OK?’ They both turned and looked in the car and one man shouted back ‘What dogs?’

It seemed like everything then went into slow motion, the shock and disbelief took over.  The security men phoned the police, so I could tell them what I had left in the car.  When I told them it was my dogs, the police man said ‘As it’s ONLY DOGS, we won’t bother coming out’.  I can’t tell you how I felt at that moment!!! I phoned my husband who was working in London, he tried different members of the family to see who could get to me the quickest, it turned out my father was only half and hour away and was immediately on his way to get to me. I was taken back into the store where we phoned the police again!

Dog theft is not a registered crime; I only got a crime number because my car window had been smashed, so the crime was reported as ‘Car Theft’. To complicate matters The Meadows is on the corner of three counties, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire so all three police forces had to be informed separately with separate crime numbers!  You can get a crime reference number for the theft of a pet because it it your ‘Goods and Chatells’ but at the time I didn’t know.

My father arrived; he had already spoken to the Surrey police and also spoke to the Berkshire
police when he arrived at Marks and Spencers. We left the store, causing quite a scene, as you can imagine Bruce Forsyth being escorted out of the store with a crying woman, it seemed everyone was watching us!! We went back to my father’s  house, where we started calling different dog organisations such as RSPCA, Battersea Dogs Home, Dog Trust anyone we could think of.

The dogs were microchipped, so after a few phonecalls found out the microchips the dogs had were registered on the Petlog database, they were very helpful and told me that they contact local veterinary surgeries and dog wardens, I just kept thinking we will get them back, they are microchipped, this thought kept me going the first night.  I found out that my contact details were not up to date on the database.  I thought that by registering at a vet and having Pet Passports for the dogs, that I had been updating the info but that doesn’t count.   We went online and started to look for some more information on what we could do.

Wednesday, 3rd May 2006.

We found a website called www.doglost.co.uk. We sent them photos of Widget and Gizmo and they put a poster together instantly. Jayne Hayes founder of Doglost told us to get back to where the theft happened and start putting up posters and talking to other dog owners. Jayne was also the one who told us that “VETS DON’T SCAN PET REGISTERING WITH OWNER’S!”  “BUT if my dogs are sold on, they will go to the vets with a new owner, how will I get my dogs back????”

What horror, how could this be, when a Vet sells you the mircrochip system you are told that this will help you get your stolen or lost dog back, but why don’t they follow up on a scheme that they sell?

I told Jayne that my father was Bruce Forsyth and that he was going on ‘This Morning’ on Friday and asked if he should he say something? The advice from her and other people was to say nothing to the press or TV as this could endanger the dog’s lives by making them too hot to handle. We also phoned Lionel and Sue Blair for advice who had had their dog Florence was stolen in February, they had a lot of press coverage but their dog was not returned and is still missing.

Every day we just carried on putting up posters and talking to people.

Saturday, 6th May 2006.

We found out that a couple of newspapers were contacting Marks and Spencers to find out more about a story that they had heard. Everyone kept quiet, we where told the first week was the most important, if the dog nappers saw the posters, they would phone saying they had found the dogs, we just wanted to get to the end of that first week.

We spent the whole weekend sticking up posters, visiting markets and car boot sales. The founder of another web site alfieslostdogs, Justine, and her friend cameand helped us.

Monday, 8th May 2006.

The newspapers started contacting my father’s office; they were told that we had been advised to say nothing as the dog’s lives were at stake.

Tuesday, 9th May 2006.

One week had gone by.  A Daily Mirror reporter and photographer arrived at Marks and Spencers where I was still spending a couple of hours a day handing out posters, before going to new areas to put the posters up. I knew we couldn’t stop the story getting out, so I gave an interview in order that they had as much information about the dogs as possible.

What more could we do? It was now out of our hands, what if nothing came from the newspaper article?


Wednesday, 10th May 2006.

Natasha Kaplinsky having read the article in the Daily Mirror, telephoned my father and said that the BBC news would like to do a piece on our story, as Dog Theft was one off the biggest growing crimes in the UK.

See film clip: below BBC NEWS dated Thursday, 11th May 2006.

GMTV had also called to arranged an interview, which my father and I did at Wentworth.  Two interviews in two days, was this going to help??

See film clip: below GMTV PART 1 dated

© GMTV2006 – used with permission from GMTV

About mid day we got a call from Doglost to say that GMTV had had a call
from a viewer which they were following up.

2.00pm I got a call to say they were sending the dog warden around to the home of the couple who had called in, to check the dog for a microchip number.

3.00pm I got a call from Ron Oliver the dog warden for the Hayes district.
He told me that it was Widget, who looked fit and well and was being looked after a man called Philip. GMTV were there to film the moment.

Friday, 12th May 2006.

My father, Widget and I did an appeal for Gizmo.

See film clip: below GMTV PART 2 dated

© GMTV2006 – used with permission from GMTV

About 10.30am I got a call from GMTV who said a lady had phoned in about Gizmo, She said her friend had bought a small dog in Southall who barked a lot! She then got her friend to phone in. I passed the number on to Jayne at Doglost, who phoned me back to say it looked like it was Gizmo but they were sending in the Dog Warden to check the microchip.

12.00 pm I got a call from Ron Oliver (the same dog warden as the day before!) who also covered the Northwood district. He told me that it was Gizmo, who looked fit and well and was being looked after by a lady called Billy Jo. My father and I jumped in the car and by 2.00, we were driving back home with Widget and Gizmo. How lucky had we been?!  I still can’t believe it!!

Monday, 15th May 2006.

Reunited with Gizmo on GMTV

See film clip: below GMTV PART 3 dated

© GMTV2006 – used with permission from GMTV

Without GMTV I wouldn’t have both dogs home.

You can’t experience this crime and not feel that you want to do something to help all the other dog owners who have not been as fortunate as us.  The only reason I got my dogs back, was because I have a famous father.  Knowing how flawed the microchipping system is, we felt we could help others, who found them selves in this devastating situation.  You can help too by signing the petiton!!!

With your help we can make a difference, just by asking your vet to scan all dogs at their
practice and then for them to adopt a practice policy for all dogs to be routinely scanned
on their first visit, you will be helping to get stolen microchipped dogs back home. It really
is as simple as that!

Thank you

We would like to say a special thank you to Philip and Billy Jo.