Stolen Pitbull update
The woman who owned the stolen Pitbull had told me about three possible housing estates where she thought the dognapping knife-weilding boys could be living – one was near her place on Clapton Road, the other a little further south by Hackney Downs and the third, worryingly, right by my house on London Fields.
‘They are the estates that have kids in them that might do that sort of thing’ she said with a frown.
She told me that the most likely place to look was by Hackney Downs. Someone she knew had even reported seeing a dog like hers there. But she also told me that her son, who had been walking the dog at the time, refused to talk to me about it. He didn’t want to say anything to anyone.
‘Why?’ I asked
‘I’m not sure. Maybe he feels too bad about, he doesn’t like showing emotions, maybe he might be worried, maybe he’s just being funny with me…he’s at that age. The attackers seemed to recognise him though, or at least they knew his cousin’
It turned out his cousin was in jail. Something to do with walking around with a baseball bat in his trousers but I didn’t ask for details.
I arrived at Hackney Downs that evening at 6pm, parked up, left my wallet and phone in the car and in a stupidly paranoid middleclass way put my car key into my sock and then set off with a picture of the dog printed out on and A4 sheet. I rounded the corner where the park meets the estates and under an avenue of overgrown trees saw a man with a dark leather jacket walking a large pitbull-type dog on a chain. I approached him with a large smile.
‘Excuse me sir, I wondered if you could help’ I asked as politely as I could ‘I’m looking for my friend’s missing Pitbull terrier ….it might be about here somewhere’
He shuffled to a stop and looked at me ‘Yeh? And what does it look like?’. He was missing a front tooth.
‘Actually… almost exactly like yours’ I said and then very quickly I laughed when i realised that might sound a little accusatory. I showed him the picture.
‘You sure its a Pit?’ he said roughly.
‘Yeh, its got a tattoo, on it’s inner back left leg, it’s been checked over and chipped and everything. It’s a female but it’s been neutered. It won’t fight either.’
We both looked at the picture some more. On reflection it DID looked remarkably like his dog. The same round forehead, brown hair, dark mouth and eyes. Even he seemed a little taken aback.
I decided to act quickly: I ducked down to the ground and looked under the dog’s belly. There was a tattoo! But I couldn’t quite read the number… something was in the way…. I craned my neck. What was in the way was a MASSIVE pair of balls.This wasn’t the bitch I was looking for.
‘Er…nice dog you got there. Nice boy isn’t he – he looks strong, yes’ I said from a very low position near the floor.
The man looked at me . ‘This aint the dog you’re looking for’
‘No, of course not…’ I stood up and brushed off my knees.
‘But you’re in the right place’ the man said. He pointed to the large metallic sign for the Hackney Downs park and showed me the shotgun hole in the map which – rather ominously – was right about where we were standing ‘This is where they do the dog fighting – mostly at night. I don’t even come here past 7. Not when they bring guns, it’s no point is it?’
Surely it’s not a gun hole, I thought. Perhaps a champagne cork fired from a nice picnic, or maybe an angry woodpecker? I thanked him and walked off into the estate to talk to a few more people. No one had seen the dog. But the consensus became pretty clear pretty quickly- don’t ask anyone about a ‘stolen’ dog and no-one is going to do anything unless you offer some serious money.
I rang Claire, the dog’s owner, and asked how much she would pay. She was reluctant but suggested ‘£100, maybe £150, but no more’ I went home to make up a reward poster.
But when I got home, on the tree near my house there was already a poster.
Oh crap. Another dog missing. Do i have to find this one too? You can’t say ‘no’ to any animal in distress, Martin. Another staffie-type status dog. A pattern was emerging here.
I rang the number on the poster. A husky-sounding woman’s voice answered. She was my near neighbour. I went to visit her. She opened the door – her face was swollen, she had a large red mark under her left eye and a black bruise on her forehead.
‘It’s been a tough week’ she said.
‘Oh I see’ I said. What have you got yourself into??? ‘Don’t worry, a tough week for me too’ I said which was not true. My rice cakes had gone a bit stale but that was it.
She explained that she had left the front door open but the dog had escaped and never been seen again. I suggested a poster with a reward would be good. She thought it was a nice idea.
‘Actually, I have a poster that I’m working on’ I said, which sounded a bit weird. ‘I could use that for yours too’
I went home to make up TWO posters.
So far I had killed a snail, a mosquito and had NOT found two missing dogs but I was determined that my newfound proactive compassion was going to help some animal somewhere. After all, I mean well, don’t I???