THREE pug dogs stolen from a Redan house late last week have been reunited with their young owner after a man responded to an advertisement selling the pets on a social media site.
Brandi, Betty and Bowie were reunited with their young disabled owner, Joseph Draper, when he returned home from the Ballarat Specialist School yesterday afternoon, three anxious days after they disappeared from an enclosure behind the family home.
Two of the dogs, Betty, aged 11 months, and Bowie, two years, were taken to the Ballarat Police Station yesterday morning by a man who said he paid a deposit for the animals after seeing them for sale on Facebook.
The man told police he recognised the dogs as stolen after seeing a story about the pets’ disappearance in The Courier yesterday.
He said he paid a $100 deposit for the much-loved dogs, then immediately took them to the police station. The third dog, Brandi, was returned to Joseph’s house later yesterday.
The dogs, three of four owned by Joseph’s family, were bought for the eight-year-old to help him deal with his rare disability, Trisomy 8P Mosaic Syndrome.
Joseph is one of only two in Australia to be diagnosed with the condition, which affects speech and fine and gross motor skills.
Because of Joseph’s disability, he had few friends and the four dogs, including Billy, who was not taken from the Redan home last week, were the young boy’s only mates.
Joseph’s mother Julia Frenkel said yesterday her son was relieved to have the dogs back home.
“We’re just over the moon ... our family is complete again,” she said.
Ms Frenkel paid tribute to the Ballarat community for its response to yesterday’s article in The Courier calling for the dogs’ return.
“The response has been amazing. For every bad thing that happens, there is also a lot of good.”
Several people had contacted police yesterday offering to buy three new pugs for Joseph.
Ms Frenkel said the incident also proved how successful microchipping was.
“It is very important. If these dogs weren’t microchipped, there would be no way of identifying them as mine. It would have been very hard to prove,” Ms Frenkel said.
Constable Kathleen Hewitt from Ballarat police said several people were assisting police were their inquiries.
Anyone with information should call police on 5336 6000.