A dog owner in the Brookeborough area has been left “traumatised” after intruders attempted to break into her property and steal her dogs on Sunday morning (July 5).

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she was aware of attempted dog thefts in her area after seeing a post to the Pets Lost and Found Fermanagh Facebook page reporting an incident in Lisbellaw on Saturday (July 4).

The woman told this newspaper: “I walk my dogs every single morning, I love it as an exercise for myself but even if I had a pain in my leg or anything, I would go because my love for my dogs comes first.”

The woman explained that as her dogs are rescue dogs and as they weren’t rescued at the same time, they don’t get on with each other therefore she has to walk them each individually, leaving the others at home whilst doing so.

“I didn’t walk on Sunday morning because I saw the post about the attempted break in at another woman’s property in Lisbellaw, which wouldn’t be far from where I live,” she explained before adding.

“That rose my antenna, and I thought, okay, I’m nervous now, this is getting too close. What I’m reading about, this is Lisbellaw.”

Due to space, the woman explained that two of her dogs stay in her house and the other two in a garden shed.

“Surrounding the garden shed is an 8ft steel fence, so not the normal fencing, it’s very expensive and very solid. It’s set in concrete and there’s no way to climb it.

“The gates are also steel and the bolts are welded on. Those bolts are then locked with padlocks,” said the woman, adding that the security has always been there, not because of anything that has happened recently.

“On Sunday morning, roughly around the time that I’d be due back from my walk, I heard one of my spaniels barking. It was a cross bark so I knew immediately there was somebody up there that shouldn’t be,” shared the woman, noting that her spaniel is usually very placid so this type of barking was out of character.

“When I got up my dog wouldn’t come to me, he was barking really angrily at the back of the pen. Immediately behind the pen there’s a perimeter fence.

“It’s only about 6ft to get to the 8ft fence but because it’s woodland behind, whoever was there could have hidden from me easily when they heard me come,” she said.

The woman was only up at the shed for around five seconds when she heard a car engine starting. The sound was coming from the front of the house.

“I knew straight away that whoever had been at the back of the dog’s shed had run down through the woodland,” said the woman.

She then ran down and saw the car fly by.

When she got to a better view point she could tell from a distance that the car was a red hatch back but couldn’t get the details from its number plate.

Commenting that she was traumatised by the incident, she woman explained that she went back up to the shed to see if anything was tampered with: “I was just so happy to see my dogs that I didn’t do a very thorough investigation then.”

It was only when she and her brother checked her property a little later that they realised that the intruders had crossed the perimeter fence and managed to cut the 8ft steel fence.

“So they had come armed with special equipment because ordinary wire cutters wouldn’t cut this steel fencing, they cut about a 9inch square section to get in to try and meddle with the lock on the gate. Whatever they did with the lock I can’t get it open now,” said the woman, who is still in shock from the incident.

“I didn’t walk my dogs today (Monday) and I can’t see when I can walk up the road again because I am terrified,” the woman told this newspaper, her voice breaking.

This incident is one of a number of attempted dog thefts in the Fermanagh area of late.

The Impartial Reporter understands that there was also an attempted dog theft in Castle Archdale on July 3, where a woman was injured when thieves tried to steal her dog whilst she was out walking in broad daylight.

Highlighting the issue and encouraging dog owners to be alert, a spokeswoman on behalf of Animal Rights Ireland said: “These guys are getting very blatant and very intrusive and abusive. People have to be really alert.”

“Always keep your animals under supervision, never leave them alone in sheds, backyards, pens, they are not safe. That’s the bottom line,” she said.

“These people are criminals and they need dogs financially,” the spokeswoman added, noting that there is a high demand to sell to breeders, individuals and dog fighting rings.

Advising dog owners to be aware of their environment, she said: “Any suspicious people or vehicles, get as much information on those as possible.”

“Also be very aware of your own property boundaries where there might be paint markings, chalk markings, stones that are moved, plastic bags that are tied, cable ties that are attached to their property gate or trees or bushes,” she said, sharing some of the tell-tale signs of dog thieves planning to target a property.

Responding to a query from The Impartial Reporter regarding attempted dog thefts in the Fermanagh area, a spokeswoman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) stated: “Police have received a number of reports of suspicious circumstances in the Fermanagh area recently.

“At around 5pm on Saturday, July 4, police received a report from a resident in the Lisnaskea area that she had returned to her home at around 5pm to find one of her dogs locked in a shed.

“The following day a resident in the Brookeborough area observed a vehicle leaving the front of their property at approximately 9.20am.”

Inspector Michael Patton said: “We are aware of social media posts circulating regarding attempted pet thefts and I would encourage people to immediately report any suspicious activity in their area, particularly in isolated or rural areas.

“Local Crime Prevention Officers are available to provide general crime prevention advice to the public and can be contacted on the non-emergency number 101. You can also submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/.”