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Waltham Forest Council has been criticised for asking a family whose dog was stolen to take down posters offering a reward for her return.
French bulldog Tina was stolen from a locked van parked at Morrisons in Chingford shortly before 4pm on May 7, while her owners shopped inside.
Devastated owner Patrycja Kowalczyk says the family and volunteers put up thousands of posters near Morrisons, around the borough and further afield in a desperate bid to find her.
However, on May 24, they claim they received an “aggressive” phone call from a council officer, insisting the posters were an “eyesore” and must be taken down.
A council spokesperson said the council is “sorry to hear of the family’s loss” and will “continue to engage” with them, urging anyone with information to get in touch.
Patrycja, 21, said: “It did feel like we were being kicked in the face, but we really don’t want any more trouble. We have started to comply.
“It’s quite a heartless thing to have to look at her face on that poster and rip it off, it’s not a request I would have made personally.
“We do feel quite targeted. There’s posters up everywhere (of other missing pets), why have they decided to take action with Tina?”
While she has “not really kept records of exactly how many” posters went up in the borough, she claims an estimated 8,500 went up in total across the south east.
She added: “We definitely did put a lot up around Morrisons but I think that’s quite reasonable given it’s where she was stolen from. We didn’t put them up in other areas that much.
“We just wanted to work something out but everything we tried to throw at (the council) they completely rejected, they weren’t interested in any kind of compromise at all.”
She claimed the family was threatened with an unspecified fine, plus the cost of removing the posters, but not given an exact deadline of when this should be done.
A council spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear of the family’s loss of their pet dog Tina. Our dog team has spoken with the family and offered advice and support.
“We urge anyone with information to contact the owners who have offered a reward for the dog’s safe return. We will continue to engage with the family on this matter.”
A Facebook group dedicated to finding Tina currently has more than 1,000 members: https://www.facebook.com/groups/805323607056678/