A WOMAN has been found guilty of stealing a prize winning show dog worth £4,000 from outside a Preston supermarket.
Cloud, a rare Japanese Spitz, was briefly left tied up outside Lidl on Strand Road by owner Caroline Warrington on October 23 last year.
A trial at Preston Magistrates Court heard Cloud had won awards at Crufts.
Louise Bennett, 44, of De Lacy Street, Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston,was accused of his theft.
Prosecuting, Phillippa Jones said the victim had tied the lead in a double knot and there was no possibility this came undone without being purposely untied.
Louise Bennett, 44, of De Lacy Street, Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston,
said: “My partner went into Lidl. I was waiting outside and went around the back of the shop to go for a wee.
“I was in the woods and as I was mid-wee I heard a rustling behind which made me jump. I saw a dog with a harness on and its lead dangling.
“It followed me. My partner was waiting for me. We looked to see if there was anyone nearby. He said to have a look around the estate and see if it’s come from there but we couldn’t find anyone. We were loaded down with shopping.
“We were going to take it the vets to see if it was microchipped but it looked closed.”
The bench heard a police officer visited Bennett’s home and she denied there was a dog in the house. But he heard barking and she said: “Oh yes there’s a dog in the back garden, we found it yesterday.”
Miss Jones said: “Quite simply this is a beautiful dog, you saw it being tied up by its owner and you had to go over and untie it because you wanted to take it home.”
Bennett was found guilty, and is in breach of two conditional discharges. She received a four month curfew and must pay £140 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
After the case Miss Warrington, a police lecturer, said: “ I was distraught. I was only in the area because my car was having an MOT. I wouldn’t normally have left him there, I nipped in for some milk. This serves as a warning to dog owners that thieves are opportunistic.”
“When I got Cloud back he jumped up and whimpered.”