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Duchess of Cambridge 'has fuelled demand' for cocker spaniels as Stubbs Cross couple's dog Peg is stolen from Courtfield Kennels, Great Chart, Ashford

By Rachael Woods

A heartbroken couple have blasted a kennels’ boss after their black cocker spaniel was stolen from its pen.

Louise Pepper and her partner Matthew Newing, 31, were on a holiday of a lifetime in Cuba to celebrate Louise’s 30th birthday, when the shocking news came through from Matthew’s mum.

Their beloved pet, Peg, who has white speckles, was being looked after at Courtfields Kennels, in Great Chart, where she had been cared for many times before.

Louise Pepper and partner Matthew thought they'd never see Peg again

Thieves struck in the early hours of June 21, just days after the couple had jetted off for their exotic break.

They picked five year-old Peg out of her kennel after breaching fencing and cutting through bolts, but no other dogs were taken in the raid which was discovered at 6am.

Louise, a chartered financial planner, of Magpie Hall Road, Stubbs Cross, said: “Peg was one of around 25 dogs and she was taken from the middle of the kennels.

"She was like our child and followed Matthew around everywhere and we can’t believe she has been taken from the kennels.”

Kennels’ boss Tony Steel said that he has owned the business for 11 years and has never had a break-in before.

He contacted police immediately after discovering that Peg was missing at 6am and a forensics officer attended.

Mr Steel posted information on the internet and contacted the dog warden about Peg, as well as alerting specialist Jane Frankland of DogLost, who helps reunite dogs and owners.

He also made posters about Peg that have been distributed to shops and pubs to put up.

But Louise, who returned home yesterday, said: “We can’t see any posters about Peg around and Tony did not seem sympathetic. All he could say was that cocker spaniels are in high demand because the Duchess of Cambridge owns one.”

The Duchess of Cambridge during a previous visit to Kent. Picture - David Parker

Tony said: “I felt sick to the stomach when I discovered that Peg was missing and have been up every night since checking the dogs.”

Jane Frankland of DogLost said: “This is devastating for the owners and the kennels. Peg is spayed so can’t be used for breeding and can only be someone’s pet.”

Louise said: “When you go on holiday you worry about missing your flight, or getting ill, but you don’t think your dog will be stolen when you're gone.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s black cocker spaniel is called Lupo.

A series of books about the princely pooch have been written by Aby King and The Adventures of a Royal Dog is published by Hodder Children’s Books.

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