Published: 09:39, 27 February 2021
| Updated: 11:54, 27 February 2021
A masked man dressed all in black snatched a pug from a pensioner in broad daylight during a planned dog theft.
Ann Cowlard, 72, was walking her group of dogs around Lydd on Wednesday morning when she came across a stranger in an alleyway.
The man bent down to greet one of her cream-coloured pugs, loosened her collar, and then ran off.
The 11-year-old dog, who is hard of hearing and lost half her teeth, has not been seen since despite the best efforts of the police and the Lydd community.
Shocked owner Mrs Cowlard said: "I can't explain how devastating something like this is.
"I do the same walk every day at the same time - but I definitely won't be from now on.
"I had walked across the Rype (an open green) and was about to go down the alleyway behind the community centre.
"There was a man all in black - he was either in a balaclava or he had a woolly hat and mask - so I waited for him to come down the alley because of social distancing.
"When he came through he bent down to make a fuss and said 'you're lovely doggies aren't you'.
"He was stroking one of their heads and unclipping the lead with the other hand. I screamed and went hysterical but her picked her up and ran off with her."
The theft happened between 10.30am and 11am on Wednesday, near to the Robin Hood Lane where Mrs Cowlard lives.
Searches around the coastal town have since proved fruitless, and registered dog trainer Mrs Cowlard is hoping her pug has been left unwanted somewhere.
'I can't explain how devastating something like this is...'
"No one's going to want her aside from me as she's going deaf and has lost half her teeth. I really hope she has been dumped somewhere and we can find her.
"Because I have a lot of dogs I go out at the same time everyday. I know that's a mistake but it's alright thinking about things like this after the incident.
"I've got to keep myself stable for my other dogs. They aren't acting the same because they know I'm feeling different.
"I'm going out at a different time now. When it first happened, I said I'm not going out the house any more but I can't do that because the dogs need exercise."
Mrs Cowlard says she is incredibly thankful to everyone who has helped try and locate her stolen dog.
Police say the suspected thief is described as about five feet, ten inches tall, of stocky build, with dark brown eyes.
Anyone who thinks they have information on the dog theft should contact police on 01843 222289, quoting reference 46/30585/21.
Or they can call call 01797 320788.