It sounds like something out of a Mafia movie – a mysterious caller asking to meet in a field to exchange a dog for £1,000.
This was the situation Vanessa Lucas, 40, was presented with last week after her prize pug Bertie was seen being taken away in a car by an unknown woman.
Mrs Lucas, of Havelock Road, said she “did not have that kind of money” and was unsure what to do.
After phoning the police she was told not to go ahead with the switch without an officer escort – but when the woman got in touch again Mrs Lucas said she felt desperate and negotiated a deal.
She told News Shopper: “She texted and asked to come over. I said ‘there’s no way I can afford £1,000’ – but I said I was happy to give her some money.
“We (family) thought our dog would’ve been sold on. She had him four days.
“She came round and gave us the dog and we gave her a cheque for £100. We just wanted to make it enough for her to come around and I just wanted to appeal to her human side.
“My daughter was crying.”
On Sunday April 20 Mrs Lucas had described how she and her family had been left “devastated” after four-year-old Bertie was seemingly stolen.
A neighbour had seen a woman put him in a black Renault Megane and drive away – leaving the family’s other pug, Peaches, alone.
Mrs Lucas added: “My neighbour saw him being taken away – the woman said she didn’t steal it. She said he was out there on his own and she didn’t know what to do.
“She said he ran out into the middle of the road but my neighbour saw him in the garden.
“But I just wanted my dog back. We’ve been through hell”.
Bromley’s RSPCA branch reported Bertie had been reunited with his owners on Wednesday April 23.
The police said: “We are aware that the owner has been reunited with the dog.
“An investigation into this matter is currently ongoing.”