York & North Yorkshire

Dog stolen in Thirsk back home in time for Christmas

Aflie Image copyright Laura Bland
Image caption The family's four-year-old son Charlie has grown up with Alfie

A stolen dog has been reunited with his family just in time for Christmas.

Alfie the black labrador was in the back of a pick-up truck when it was stolen near Thirsk. The van was later recovered but the dog was not inside.

Owners Shaun Traves and Laura Bland launched a social media appeal and used a specialist dog tracker who managed to find him.

Ms Bland said having their five-year-old family pet back was the perfect Christmas present.

She said her four-year-old son Charlie, who had grown up with Alfie, "didn't want to go to school because he wanted to stay with him".

"But he's scared someone is going to take him away again," Ms Bland added.

Image copyright Laura Bland
Image caption Laura Bland said the family never gave up hope of getting Alfie home

Alfie was in a dog crate in the back of a flatbed truck when it was stolen from the side of the road on 4 December.

The vehicle was found abounded in the village of Counden, near Bishop Auckland, the following day but Alfie was nowhere to be seen.

Ms Bland said: "It was devastating, we didn't know where he was, whether they had dumped him or if he had been sold."

More than 2,000 people joined a Facebook group to try and help find Alfie.

Ms Bland received phone calls of support and reports of potential sightings.

She said: "People are just so kind, it's really shocked us how generous people are."

Image copyright Laura Bland
Image caption Alfie was missing for more than two weeks after he was stolen along with a pick-up truck

The family found out where Alfie was before Mr Traves collected him on Thursday.

"As soon as Alfie got in the house he just ran and picked up his teddy. He was straight into bed last night, between us," Ms Bland said.

She said Alfie was "really skinny" and his microchip had been cut out but he was excited to be home.

North Yorkshire Police confirmed it had investigated the incident and "been updated regarding the return of the dog".

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