A family said “we feel like we’ve won the lottery” after being reunited with their stolen dog Mabel who had been dumped in a bag and buried under sticks.
Bedraggled and terrified two year old Maltese Mabel was found hidden under branches buried deep in undergrowth.
A father and son out walking their dog heard whimpers coming from bushes down a remote country lane.
When they went to investigate they eventually found an old parasol bag tied up.
They unzipped it to find Mabel shaking in terror.
If they hadn’t investigated the family fear their much-loved pet could have died.
Her owners from Lincolnshire told how their “family is complete again” but want to warn others to watch their pet every second – even in back gardens.
Dog charities are also warning the public to keep a look out as Mabel is one of several found tied in bags recently and hidden under bushes.
Mabel was snatched from her back garden near Boston, Lincolnshire on Tuesday, April 27.
Her family have been searching day and night and campaigning on social media for her safe return.
On Friday they were left in floods of tears when they were reunited with their pet dumped ten minutes away from their home.
They took her immediately to the vets where her microchip was scanned and she was given the all clear.
Now she is “home sweet home” and has been curled up in front of the fire recovering from her ordeal.
Her owner, Nicola, 51, and Russell Pinner, 55, a builder, said: “We feel like we’ve won the lottery, we just can’t believe it.”
Nicola added: “Dog theft is becoming a nightmare for people.
“People don’t realise how easy it is, you need to watch their dogs when they’re in the garden. I never thought this would happen to us.
“At first we didn’t know if she’d been stolen.
“My dad let her out, to go to the toilet, then went out to let her back in and she’d gone. He rang us fraught.
“Since then all the neighbours have been searching. Everyone has been helping and been so kind.
“We’ve hardly had any sleep all week since Tuesday.
“Then on Friday morning at 7.30am, a lady rang me and said her husband and her son had found her.
“They could hear whimpering and barking but couldn’t find her at first until they saw this umbrella bag in undergrowth.
“The bag was zipped up with a tie on it and it had sticks all over it so it wouldn’t move. They didn’t want her found.
“We’ve gone straight there and she just stared at us. Then Russell cuddled her and she licked his face.
“The lady who found her was crying, I was crying, everyone was crying.”
She added: “She’s been asleep ever since she’s been traumatised and I can’t imagine what she’s been through.
“She’s cuddled up with a bone by the fire and she’ll sleep for England now “The police are investigating but the people who have done this are scum.
“I can’t believe human beings would do this and put people through this.”
Nicola believes Mabel was dumped because she became “too hot to handle” after vanishing from their home in Old Leake.
Melody Cheal, from Dogs Stolen with Violence, warned on Facebook : “When out walking your own dogs be on the look out for abandoned dogs trapped in bags or tied up under bushes.
“There have been several dogs found recently, abandoned in such a way but they may have died if not found.
“Some dogs will not make a noise if trapped like this particularly if they have been abused.
“So when on your walks please keep checking every day. You may save a dog’s life.”