Two pet dogs were stolen from a family's villa in Dubai in the latest incident of what charity bosses say is a growing trend of animal thefts.
Dog thieves change tack in growing trend of pets being stolen in UAE
Anthony Miles, from the UK, arrived home on Wednesday night to find his Bolognese and Maltese, called Bertie and Louie respectively, missing from the back garden of his home in Arabian Ranches.
CCTV camera footage from a neighbour's home recorded two women dragging the animals down the street using makeshift leads made from rope.
"It was a terrible thing to go through," Mr Miles said. "The people who steal them see them as just something to sell. They have no emotional connection to them.
"To the people who own them, they're part of the family."
Jackie Ratcliffe, the chair of the dog charity, K9 Friends, said thefts of pets was an increasing problem.
"It's becoming more and more common now," she said. "It seems to be happening weekly."
She said the day before Mr Miles's case, a Pekingese and a pug went missing from a home in Jumeirah.
Although thefts of this kind are not new to Dubai, the patterns are changing, said Ms Ratcliffe. Whereas before people would steal large dogs to take part in fights, the trend is now to steal expensive pets that can be resold.
"It seems to be little pedigree dogs that go missing now, rather than big ones," she said. "These smaller ones they can sell fairly easily. However, we still haven't been able to find out where."
Luckily, Mr Miles was reunited with his pets yesterday morning after a neighbour spotted the animals wandering the streets without collars.
He said he had no idea why the thieves let them go. "Maybe they got spooked or realised they couldn't get through the community's security gate," he said.
Ms Ratcliffe said it was rare for dogs that go missing to be reunited with their owner.
"Most people just have their dogs go missing one day and never see them again," she said.