When Wallace was kidnapped
In April 2006 my lovely Wallace was kidnapped from right in front of my home. The Irish Gypsies were in town with the Fair and in a profiling instance that turned out to be fully justified, they were revealed as the thieves, stealing dogs to ransom while holding them in inhumane conditions.
Here’s the story told in two parts on this page; first the summary story, in Wallaces’ words, and then the actual pages I posted at the time of the efforts made to get him back.
Beautiful Wallace has since passed, in June of 2013, aged 15. After a full and wonderful life in which he raised two boys, won many hearts and patrolled the Riverbank towpath daily. You can read the story of his later life in the book ‘Who Lies wins’ by Andrea Lee.
The story of Wallace’s kidnapping.
In his own words
Oh my goodness. Have I got a story to tell you. I am back on the towpath on a lovely sunny spring day. But it was all so different not that long ago. Here’s what happened, eight days before good Friday, 2006
It was a sunny Thursday afternoon and I had just arrived back home from my lunchtime biscuit run to Bridge Road Cafe with my dad, when Rob the plumber rang the door buzzer. I haven’t seen Rob since the building works ended last month, so I rushed out to greet him. That was fun, but then I smelt some new pee on the next-door wall and obviously I had to deal with that right away.
We have our doggy facebook on Riverbank and I have 37 followers. It’s my hood you see, and after all, I am Wallace of Riverbank.
I remember my dad calling me when he went inside with Rob, but I thought, I’ll just take a minute to myself to check the sidewalk.
Because I am a responsible dog I am allowed to have a little wonder when I want, because I know what the rules are. Never go out of sight from the front door. Once I am done with my facebook messaging, checking the new smells, I see myself back in and make sure Dad knows I am back in so he can close the door.
I was taking notes on the smells, about 20 yards from the front door. There was no one around at that moment.
Just then, a car pulled up. I thought maybe it’s my John come home early so I ran up to the door to have a look in. Next thing the door opened and this fellow held a biscuit right at my nose. ‘I’ll have some of that‘ I thought reaching for the biscuit, and by the time I had that sweet biscuit taste hitting my mouth, I realised I was inside the car and moving. I knew straight away that something wasn’t right. I could smell it. I tried to raise the alarm by barking and this very dark man hit me on the side of the head and said ‘Shut it’ really loud.
I was dizzy for a minute but as soon as I cleared my head I barked at him again. The dark aura man turned in his seat and before I could duck he bashed me on the head really hard. It all went dark for awhile.
When I woke up I was in a field, but not a nice green field like the ones I like to run around on. This one had some broken down car parts lying in rust coloured mud. I stood up, and tried to move away from the wall when I realised I had been tied up with a piece of blue rope. I looked around. There were lots of dogs all tied to the same piece of wall on bits of rope. The smell was horrible and I am a Schnauzer – I know smell. This was disgusting. Dog poo and wee left accumulating and unwashed for years.
Some of the dogs were crying. There was a Westie next to me. Usually I like Westies so I asked him what was going on. Next thing he just went for me. He was completely beserk. Luckily he didn’t seem to have much strength though – so I was able to snarl and snap my way back to my feet. All the other dogs started baying for blood. It was like a scene from a horror movie. I summoned up all my Terrier male confidence, puffed my chest out and addressed the panting Westie. Oy mate. “What’s your game then.”
“You don’t understand. We’re all going to die‘ he shrieked and with that all the other dogs started baying and howling.
The noise was deafening but by far the worst thing was the smell. Rotten wee, stinking layers of poo and rancid garbage odour filling my lungs with every breath. I felt sick to the stomach and so I started barking. Really really loud. I thought maybe if I barked loud enough my dad would hear me and come and sort out this whole sorry business. These dogs were unlike any in my facebook group. They were out of their minds. Something had driven them mad. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something was very wrong.
The louder I barked the more the other dogs tried to bark as well until suddenly a woman appeared from a doorway nearby. It was like a house on wheels. She had a stick and I thought for a fleeting second that she was going to throw it for us to run after, but instead, as she reached the first dog in the line, she swished it round really hard, crack it went, against that dogs head and his bark turned to a howling yelp of pain.
‘If you miserable runts don’t stop that noise I will crush your heads open and piss in the hole.” She spoke with an accent I didn’t recognize. I didn’t know girls talked like that. The bitches in my hood don’t.
We all went silent – except for the dog that was hurt who carried on his pitiful whining. She held the stick up again. ‘I warned you’ she said and then brought it down really hard against the poor dogs head. There was a loud crack, and then just silence. I couldn’t see very well from where I was standing, but it looked like< she had knocked the fellow out cold because he had stopped making any noise at all.
The rest of that day was a blur to me. I didn’t say a word until way after dinner time, and then it was just to ask the Westie ‘What time is dinner round here’.
‘You still don’t get it.’ He replied. ‘There’s no dinner. There’s not even any water unless it rains.’ It took me awhile to understand this. After all, there is always a bowl of water wherever you go. Every dog knows that. And yet, I was beginning to think there was definitely some truth in what the Westie was saying.
Darkness fell with no further visits from the dark aura man, or the woman with the yellow hair who had beaten the first dog. Boredom hunger and thirst had made me brave again and so I started a round of barking. At first it was just me, but after awhile the other dogs started to join in. They were all a bit half-hearted though and just as I was wondering why these dogs had so little bark in them, the dark aura man came out of the door. I thought he was coming to me, and I kept barking with as much conviction as I could muster, but he stopped at the Westie, and ignored me. He leaned forward to untie the Westie, and without so much as a word to any of the rest of us, led the poor fellow away. I never did catch his name in all the hysteria of the moment, but I suspected he was going to a better place.
I don’t remember much about what happened next. Its all a bit of a blur really. I was thirsty and hungry. I kept weeing against the wall to try and mark a little patch, and somehow there was so much wee I couldn’t get away from it, and it started to burn my feet.
I kept barking whenever I could, because the thought occurred to me that maybe my parents had gone away again and they had left me with the wrong person. Usually when they go away they know who I like to stay with, and so I never miss them too much as I am having so much fun. The thought did cross my mind that they had made a mistake leaving me with this lot.
And then I remember waking up inside a house on wheels. The man with the black aura and the lady with the yellow hair were gazing down at me and I felt dizzy. ‘Betta give im sum wahta’ said the lady. ‘Ee dun look like ees got long’
The man put a cup of water in front of me and I drank it to the last drop. I felt some strength coming back to me and after a brief but brave struggle I was able to stand on my feet without falling over. I noticed a dog sitting in the next room, and made eye contact with him. Eventually he came over to say hello. I was very polite to him.
“Hello, my names Wallace, who are you”
“ I’m Packet’ but I used to be called Bertrand”
‘Why did you change your name’ I asked.
‘Well it’s a long story, and I’m not sure you have much time’ he said ominously.
‘Oh no I have plenty of time’ I replied, ‘Please do tell’.’
Packet sighed, as if he had told this story too many times.
’Years ago I used to live with my family in Potters bar. One day as I was out walking, a car picked me up’
‘That’s what happened to me’ I interrupted him in my excitement.
’Yes that’s right he said. That’s what happens to a lot of dogs.’
‘But why do they pick up dogs’ I asked.
‘It’s a business you see. Some people have no money and so they set up business stealing dogs.’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. ‘But you can’t steal dogs. The police would catch them.’
‘Oh no’ said Packet. ‘The Police cant do anything because of how the law works. You see us dogs are called Chattels. That means we are possessions that belong to somebody. And in law the crime of theft is the intention to permanently deprive. So what that means is because these people don’t intend to permanently deprive the owner, they cant get prosecuted. This lot here steal about 20 dogs a week. Just like yourself. They wait a week and then look for the reward posters. Average reward is between 100 and 500 quid. Some weeks they clear 5,000 pounds I have heard them say.’
I couldn’t believe my ears. In a way this was good news for me because I felt sure my dad would pay money for me to go home. ‘Trouble is’ continued Packet
‘They are not good people with dogs. So some of the dogs die before they get them either sold or returned for reward.’
‘I inquired. ‘That’s right’ he replied. ’Easy way to pick up a quick hundred I hear them say. They take a cute looking dog, much like yourself, and go into a pub in a country village with a story about how they are getting divorced and the dog needs a home and that leads to what’s called an impulse buy. Average there is around 100 pounds. This lot here get rid of loads of dogs like that.’
What about you’ I asked. ‘How come you are still here’.
‘Nora, that’s the one with the yellow hair, decided she liked me, so they have made me their pet dog, and I get fed and watered and generally looked after.’
‘What do you think will happen to me’ I asked.
‘They say your trouble. Apparently you’ve been in the newspaper, because you are a musician dog and have friends like that Thunder in my Heart singer Leo, so they are getting worried that someone might recognise you. I heard them say that they are going back to where they nicked you from to see how many reward poster are up so they know how much they can get for you from your owners.’
My ears pricked up when I heard about Leo. Me and Leo’s Yorkie, Tito, were friends all my life until Tito finally went to the big kennel underground last year. Leo always plays with me, so my spirits picked up as I imagined him coming through the door with his big grin going ‘Walleees’.
For a moment all seemed well with the world. But it was only a brief moment. The yellow haired woman and the black aura man came back into the room. ‘Right he looks better now. Take him back to the yard’, said the man. And with that I was soon back against the wall, tied to the blue rope and standing in stinking pee.
I must have gone unconscious again, because the next thing I knew I was in a car. The yellow haired woman and another younger woman with yellow hair were in the back, and the black aura man was in front with his son driving. I could hear them talking through the haze of my unwellness.
‘1,000 nickers not bad for this half dead mutt’ said the black aura man. ‘I’m not so sure about this one’ said the yellow haired woman. ‘Keep your eyes skinned when we get there. He sounds like trouble.’ I didn’t know what they were talking about.
It was good Friday, called good Friday because it was the day, 8 days after the day I had been kidnapped, when the silver Mercedes pulled up at Hampton Court Station, where, unbeknownst to me, my dad and mum had paid a ransom to the dark aura man and his friend and the yellow haired lady. He also had a very big friend watching the scene and photographing the kidnappers
(This is the actual picture of the handover. Irish traveler dog thieves.)
I felt the car stop and heard voices. My hazy vision cleared for a second and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was my DAD…….. I got up to go towards him, but my legs gave out. I tried crawling but then my vision went. I felt the woman’s pick me up, and she pushed me towards the door, and the next thing I was back in my Dads arms. I tried hard not to be unconscious, but I just couldn’t hold my head up.
The next thing I remember I was in the bath. My dad was washing off the poo that was stuck to the side of my head. I have never been so happy to be bathed before.
And then I was back in my kitchen for a bowl of chicken with my favourite dry meal. I drank my fill for the first time in 8 days and was carried to my bed.
Over the next few days I mostly slept and tried to work out what had happened. I heard that I had lost over 10% of my body weight in 8 days. It took three days before the red holes in my pads started to heal. Apparently that’s the rotting effect cause by standing in Uric acid.
And all the while I had lots of visitors. Lots of them told me they had been praying for my safe return. I thought that was nice, but because prayer is a lot like doing nothing instead of actually mucking in and doing something real, luckily for me, lots of people did do something real. Posters were made and circulated by many of my friends.
Four days after I returned I woke up feeling on top of the world. My pads no longer hurt, my belly no longer cramped with hunger and my little brain, that has little regard for past or future was firmly back in the present. And that’s where I am happiest.
I learned from this that in law, I am a chattel, which is disappointing, but lucky for me, kind people helped get me home. Not all stolen dogs are as lucky. I saw pictures my dads friend had taken and they had the car registration and the details of the kidnappers. But of course, no action could be taken, because they had not committed any offense in English law.
I am so happy that my dad loves me. And I can’t wait to see John on Friday and tell him all about it.
– – – – – – – – – – – –
And here are the pages I posted at the time. I knew he was missing when I finished my 5 minute chat with Rob, and noticed Wallace was not in the house. I checked the sidewalk. I must have missed seeing them pick him up by no more than one or two minutes.
Wallace is Missing…. from Thursday 6th…..to his return at 2PM on Friday 14th……
On April 6th, around 1.45 PM, just days after his 8th birthday, Wallace disappeared from right outside his home. Exhaustive efforts have followed involving dozens of wonderful people putting in huge effort. All of which points to one thing only. Pet theft. The practice of stealing dogs for profit. I believe a car pulled up outside while he was checking his patch in front of the house. The door opens, and a snack is offered. The dog approaches the ‘friendly’ car – the snack withdraws into the car – the dog jumps in after it. The door closes and within 30 seconds the car has disappeared.
To make matters worse – Wallace is on medication. Last week in an incident involving high bravado off the sofa arm, Wallace performed the infamous ‘leap of death‘. An acrobatic feat of courage where he launches himself into space, landing on the other side of the sofa. Sadly his second attempt at this foolhardy maneuvered resulted in a bad landing, he tumbled onto the wood floor from five feet up, and the result was a dislocated vertebra. The Vet diagnosed an anti-inflammatory drug that un seized his locked rear legs and he appeared back to his good cheer. However without this anti inflammatory drug (He’s on 2 a day) I fear the partial paralyses of the rear legs may return. That’s not to mention the effects the stress of being kidnapped must be imposing on him.
We now hope that wherever Wallace is – he is at least well, and that my offer of cash reward for his return will reach the ears of his captors. Whether their motive was well intentioned or not.
His many friends have been great with all the support. This story seems to have touched a great many hearts in a very short space of time. Increasingly I am using this opportunity to highlight this new blight on our society – dog theft. Imagine just for a second what it must take to make someone behave in this way for a couple of hundred quid? These are truly desperate people.
You can help find Wallace by circulating his picture as widely as possible in the hope that someone will spot him and return him to his home.
Thanks for reading……… I will update this page with any news.
You could circulate this FLYER. Please download and print and distribute wherever possible.
Or you can download any picture from his website HERE
Progress: Saturday 8th. I have managed to get the Police to issue an incident number, meaning Wallace is ‘Stolen’ and has not wondered. This was not as easy as it is to write the words. Police are reluctant to treat dog theft as crime. The law however makes dogs ‘Chattels’ and so they are property that is owned – like a car, and their theft should be treated accordingly. Having a police reference number meant we could get a report on the local CCTV. Unfortunately no camera covered the area at the time of the abduction. We had a great conversation with Jayne Hayes – who runs a brilliant website www.doglost.co.uk Jayne has worked helping trace Lionel Blairs dog who is also missing.Jayne has listed Wallace and her network of helpers are promoting his picture and details far and wide. Jayne suggests more likely than not he has already been sold and is not too far away. Another caller – a local journalist made us aware that there is a strong Irish traveler element who steal complete dogs to take back to Southern Ireland where lax dog laws have led to the disgusting practice of puppy farming. Horrendous. Read here at your own peril. http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/hopeuk/ The advice from that journalist was to offer money to induce the thieves to sell him back rather than profit from shipping him out to stud in horrendous conditions. I am not energising that negative thought though. Battersea dogs home have been brilliant as well – posting pics and providing helpful advice.And I have had so many fantastic messages from Wallace’s friends from around the world.
Progress Sunday 9th.We have calculated over 500 flyers have been posted in a 5 Mile radius in the obvious sites. Paths, pubs, train stations, news agents, taxi ranks, supermarkets, bus shelters, post offices, fields and so on. We have specifically targetted the sector most likely to be supportive – dog walkers, and created a little flyer that we hand out in case they spot Wallace. You can download the flyer here. In leaving no stone unturned we have asked a dear friend of Wallace’s, Diana Cooper, to consult an Animal Psychic. She reports this morning that “Wallace is well. He is 6 or 7 miles away from home. He is walking with a woman and her daughter.” We hope for more from this source.We have had many phone calls with suggestions and recommendations but to this point not a single hard lead.
Progress Monday 10th. I was contacted by journalist Goolistan Cooper – who is putting together a story about Wallace for local paper. (Surrey Comet). It is going on the ‘friend to the stars’ angle to generate some interest. They sent a photographer and we staged a pic of myself putting up a ‘Missing’ flyer. People are reporting they are seeing the posters. I have put an advert in the Walton and Weybridge Informer.
Progress Tuesday 11th.We have had calls to say local press stories are appearing in the issues for tomorrrow. Lots of supportive phone calls from many people throughout the day. Hundreds of e mails. And Jason ‘Chinners’ our local ‘Monster Raving Loony’ candidate and one of Wallaces’ ‘friends from the pub’ has offered to do a 3,000 print run of Flyers to include with his mailshot for his manifesto. Thanks Chinners. Even the policewoman at Walton Police station (who we approached on Saturday) called to see if there had been any news…..And thanks to everyone who wrote to us today……About 100 e mails.
Progress Wednesday 12th.Today’s Molesey News and Mail has run a small piece on Page 2. The Surrey Herald has a half page piece on page 2.
Consensus at this mornings ‘WHERES WALLACE’ meeting is that the school holidays play a part. His disappearance at the start of school holidays might suggest that his cute qualities made him an attractive addition for a family during school holidays…… Perhaps a parent stopping on Riverbank saw him off the lead – made the assumption he was a stray – and in an impulsive moment – drove off with him thinking ‘The kids will love a cute little dog.’………..
The latest from the animal psychic is that he is ‘In Dorset and will be gone for ‘Three weeks before he gets home.’
Progress Thursday 13th.Today marks the first week since the disappearance of Wallace. In this time this web page has had over 400 visits. The dogslost web forum has had 1,200 visits. Two substantial articles have appeared in local press. Almost 1,000 poster flyers have been placed in prominent positions. Thousands of flyers have been manually distributed. Thousand of e mails and phone calls expressing concern and offering help and advice have all, sadly, produced not a single lead. My hope is that someone will spot Wallace and call. He is distinctive – both in appearance and personality.
Good Friday 14th. Wallace is home. The full story will follow soon as we get a moment. Right now he is traumatised – and has been mistreated. But he is alive and well. To everyone who sent positive thoughts for his return – Thank you. I will prepare a full page with the story soon……..
Progress: Saturday 8th. On Friday 14th, at around 2PM I received a phone call from a male with an Irish accent saying ‘I have just seen your poster in the Teddington Tesco, and I think I have seen your dog. He was playing with some kids on the Brook Estate. Just wait. I will go see if he is still there and I will get him for you.’
I said ‘That’s very kind of you – but are you sure that’s my dog’ ‘Oh yes‘ he said.
Fifteen minutes later a second call. ‘I found the kids but they say the dog is in Hounslow on an estate, so I will have to go and look there. I lost a dog once so I know how it feels.’ etc
I felt certain that this fellow had the dog. I had the clear impression that he was executing a well practiced routine. One that required the mention of a cash incentive. When he called for a third time, prior to his ‘search of the estate in Hounslow’ I offered him a £500 reward if he succeeded. Surprisingly the next call was to say that ‘I found your dog tied up in a yard. Some Yugoslavian guy said it was his. I told him it was my uncles and I wanted it back and then there was a bit of a scuffle, but I got your dog.‘
‘Are you sure its my dog?’
‘Oh yes‘ he replied. I suggested we meet at Hampton Court Station.
‘I’ll be there in thirty minutes because of the traffic‘ he said.
‘I will have the cash waiting’ I replied.
Thirty minutes later a late model silver mercedes pulled up, (Reg M236 UKL) and I saw Wallace inside.
The passenger door opened, and I recognised Wallace. The moment he saw me his eyes lit up and he tried to get across the passenger to reach me. It was immediately apparent that he was struggling to move. Even as I held him, he appeared lethargic to the point of being practically unconscious. I paid the ‘Gentlemen’ and thanked them for their fine efforts.
This is the actual moment I have got hold of Wallace. These two men are the ‘well hard’ travelers Who stole my Wallace and ransomed him back. The woman was sat in the back seat and did not step out of the vehicle’.
Once the money had changed hands, they left, and I returned Wallace to the waiting support inside the station.
There was a blue rope that apparently had been used to tie him up. Wallace barely seemed to register anything going on. He was unable to walk.
We rushed him home where I had the opportunity to examine his condition. He was unable to stand firmly on all fours. He had a small open wound below the left ear, seemingly from a dog bite. He had dried excrement to one side of his head. The first step to his rehabilitation was a bath. An enormous amount of dirt including hard dried poo was removed. This seemed to perk him up, and once returned to the carpet he frantically started grooming himself. Rubbing his face into the carpet pile to get those whiskers looking right.
Looking to the cause of his inability to stand, I examined his pads. All four pad’s have an open wound. This is most probably the result of being tied up and standing in urine. It looks as if the ammonia has caused a rotting inside the pads.
For the first two hours he lay in his bed just lost in space….. And after his rest I took him out for a walk back on the riverbank. It was like watching a flat balloon fill up with air – as he sniffed his favorite bits and bumped into his friends on the tow path. By the end of the walk he seemed to have forgotten the pain in his feet.
He has now eaten his special meal, chicken mixed with some dry meal, and is sleeping in his day bed. Tonight, for the first time in his life, he gets to sleep on my bed. And then tomorrow starts a new day.
I have explained to him how many hundreds of people all turned their collective will to getting him home and he says. THANKS.