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Someone ‘Stole’ A Dog And Tried To Claim Reward From Owner, Maltese Activist Claims

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An animal rights activist has raised the alarm about the possibility that individuals could be taking pets away from their homes in the hope of later claiming any reward offered by their owners.

Activist Maxine Borg uploaded a Facebook post yesterday after a relative of hers was reunited with her pet dog Keita, warning people to look after their pets well since some people were willing to steal them. 

She told Lovin Malta how a relative of hers called her up at about 6pm Saturday to tell her that their dog had escaped because the garage door had been left open. 

“They’re in quarantine at the moment so my partner and I and a few others went over to look for her. We were there all night, some people stayed out till the morning looking through fields,” she said 

They returned to Għaxaq – the locality where the dog was lost – the following morning to continue their search. In the meantime, reports were filed with the police and animal welfare directorate to inform them the dog was missing. 

“In the meantime, the owner was very distressed and decided that she was going to amend the post she had uploaded asking for help, to include a €1,000 reward she was offering for her return,” Borg recalled. 

Borg said she had warned that this was too much money but the owner insisted that the dog needed to be returned at all cost. 

Later that morning, as the search for Keita was still underway, the owner received a message from someone who lives nearby, saying that they had spotted a man on a motorbike chasing after a similar dog. 

“They said the dog looked scared and they even asked him whether the dog was his, but he said it was,” Borg said. 

The message prompted the owner to increase the reward to €1,500 and roughly an hour later, at roughly 12pm on Sunday, that they were called and told that someone had found their dog.

“Since we had received the message, we were already suspecting that someone had picked her up. The fact that he asked us to meet him in Ħamrun and didn’t give us his number immediately told me something was wrong,” she said.

She added that her partner previously worked with the animal welfare directorate and knew well what a person’s normal behaviour was upon finding a lost pet. “She was chipped and had her name and owner’s number on her tag. Why would you take her to Ħamrun?” 

Together with her partner, Borg met with the man. “The dog looked scared and he didn’t want to let go of the leash,” she said. “I started to ask him why he had kept the dog for so long and whether he knew that by doing so he had broken the law.” 

“I insisted that before I give him any money, I need to go to the police station to inform them since I had filed a report,” Borg continued. 

Tensions between the two started to flare, with the police being required to diffuse the situation. 

Borg suggested that the man appeared like he had a drug problem, suggesting that the police more or less confirmed this by their handling of the situation. 

She said there was no doubt in her mind that Keita had been stolen and called on pet owners to remain vigilant as the same thing could happen to anyone. 

“I keep wondering how many lost pets have actually been taken by someone who wants to claim a reward,” she said.

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Yannick joined Lovin Malta in March 2021 having started out in journalism in 2016. He is passionate about politics and the way our society is governed, and anything to do with numbers and graphs. He likes dogs more than he does people.

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