Published: 11:18, 01 March 2021
| Updated: 08:52, 03 March 2021
Paul O'Grady has warned dog owners not to walk their pets alone following a pug theft on the Romney Marsh.
The TV star, 65, has posted his outrage on Instagram after pensioner Ann Cowlard shared her ordeal on KentOnline.
Mrs Cowlard, who was walking her dogs in Lydd, was approached by a masked stranger in an alleyway before having her 11-year-old pug snatched in a pre-planned theft.
Wednesday's crime, which has left 72-year-old Mrs Cowlard devastated, has sparked a mammoth social media appeal to locate her missing dog.
Aldington celebrity O'Grady - well known for his love of the four-legged animals - has since shared the missing pet poster to his 443,000 Instagram followers in a bid to help find the pooch.
"An elderly lady was walking her pugs in the village of Lydd in Kent when a big brave man wearing a balaclava walked up and took one," he wrote.
"The pug that this unmitigated piece of human excrement stole is 11 years old and her owner is totally heart broken.
"If anyone knows or hears anything could you report it?
"Dog theft is one of the lowest crimes that unfortunately is on the rise. Keep an eye on your pet. Don’t leave them alone in the garden and if you can don’t walk them on your own. Take care."
O'Grady's, post has been liked by 12,600 people.
The pug theft happened between 10.30am and 11am on Wednesday, near to the Robin Hood Lane in Lydd.
Speaking yesterday, Mrs Cowlard said: "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.
"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 he picked her up and ran off with her.
"I can't explain how devastating something like this is."
Anyone who thinks they have information on the dog theft should contact police on 01843 222289, quoting reference 46/30585/21 or call 01797 320788.