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Bruce Forsyth’s daughter agonising 16-year battle for new law after dogs were stolen

Dog saved from falling into road from moving car by seat belt

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Debbie Matthews, who lives in Sussex, has been campaigning for 16 years to make this compulsory in all veterinary practises. The 66-year-old was a victim of dog theft when her two Yorkshire Terriers were stolen from the back of her car in 2006.

Recalling the moment, Debbie said: “It never crossed my mind that someone might steal my dogs. I saw two men by my car and I thought it was strange that the dogs were not going mad.

“I started walking to the car but I couldn’t see any reflection, so I started running and everything went into slow motion. I shouted ‘are my dogs okay?’ and the two men said ‘what dogs?’

Fortunately her pooches Gizmo and Widget were found 10 days later following a live TV appeal alongside her late father Sir Bruce Forsyth on GMTV.

She said: “The man who bought Widget from a livestock market in Southall was watching and called in.

“The following morning we said we were still looking for Gizmo and the lady who had bought him, in a park, was watching! I was one of the lucky ones.”

“My dad was Sir Bruce Forsyth, so it was easy for me to get the media help but I could see all the other missing dogs on Doglost, who had been helping us, and felt we could help others by starting Vets Get Scanning.”

“I was lucky to get my two dogs back. The only thing I would change about my experience is to get vets to check microchips.

“My two dogs were stolen and sold on and that’s why I started campaigning.

“Vets say it’s best practice to check microchips registration at first treatment but the government needs to make it compulsory to check microchips. A microchip is still your best chance.”

Since the incident, Debbie has helped numerous people in the search for missing dogs including two women from the West Midlands.

Yvonne Handley, from Birmingham and Caroline Key, who lives in Frankly, have both never given up looking for her dogs Louie and Rags almost nearly ten years ago.

The trio of women have named the campaign Fern’s Law, which would see microchips scanned and reunite lost or stolen dogs with their rightful owners.

Since April 2016, the law states that all dogs in the UK must be microchipped and registered by the age of eight weeks.

Blue Cross for Pets dog owners are also required to keep their pet’s details up to date with the database under the current law.

After years of campaigning, MPs finally debated the issue in parliament for the first time on June 28.

Debbie said:”The vets sell you the chips and then say it’s too time-consuming, they’re too busy, too tired or overworked to check them.

“The veterinary profession are the ones making money from the love and care we have for our pets.

“They are the ones who see how much we love our pets and yet they don’t support the victims of dog theft or care about their dog’s welfare issues from being stolen.”


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