A DEVASTATED dog owner has been receiving hoax calls and ransom demands from people since her dog was reportedly stolen from her home two years ago.

Niki Roe, who lives in Harehatch, is the owner of Diddy a Miniature Pinscher who was believed to have been stolen from her home in August 2018.

Niki, who is a dog behaviourist and groomer, offered a cash reward for the safe return of her pedigree pooch back in 2018.

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She explained she has since been receiving ransom demands and hoax calls from people saying they have found Diddy.

She said: “It was not enough I lost my dog.

“The fact I’m having to endure all of this as well.

“It’s just too much.”

Niki said her dogs mean the same to her as children and said she would “do anything” to get Diddy back.

Now, she is urging the government to recognise pet theft “as a specific crime”.

She wants pets to be recognised as “sentient beings that are part of our family” and not just possessions.

She also believes the “emotional trauma” of pet theft is not taken into consideration.

A petition which has more than 87,000 signatures is urging the government to “make pet theft crime a specific offence with custodial sentences”.

Responding to this petition, the government said: “The Government is sympathetic to the emotional trauma which the theft of a much-loved pet can cause.

“All reported crimes should be taken seriously, investigated and, where appropriate, taken through the courts and met with tough sentences.

“The theft of a pet is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment and so there is no need to introduce a separate offence.”

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It added: “Sentencing is entirely a matter for our independent courts and must take into account the circumstances of each case.”

The government said guidelines consider “emotional distress, and therefore harm, that theft of personal items such as a pet can have on the victim, and accordingly recommends higher penalties for such offences”.

If you have any information about Diddy’s whereabouts, please email the news desk on news@readingchronicle.co.uk.