Sir Bruce Forsyth's daughter explains 16 year battle for new law after dogs were stolen | TeamDogs
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Sir Bruce Forsyth's daughter explains 16 year battle for new law after dogs were stolen

Debbie Matthews has helped numerous people in the search for missing dogs including two women from the West Midlands

Charlotte Regen

Posted 2 months ago ago

A woman whose two dogs were stolen is calling for vets to scan dog's microchips when they get registered at a practice after she managed to get her pets returned with the help of her dad, Sir Bruce Forsyth.

Debbie Matthews, who lives in Sussex, has been campaigning for a staggering 16 years to make it compulsory for vets to check microchips when new dogs come into the practice.

It comes after Debbie's two Yorkshire Terriers were stolen from her car back in 2006.

Since then the 66-year-old has been trying to help people like Yvonne Handley, from Birmingham, whose dog Louie has been missing for nine years.

Debbie has also formed a great relationship with Caroline Key, who lives in Frankly and has never given up searching for her lost dog Rags who vanished almost a decade ago.

The trio of women have all been fighting for Fern’s Law, which would see microchips scanned and reunite lost or stolen dogs with their rightful owners.

Speaking to TeamDogs, the animal welfare campaigner said: "I was lucky to get my two dogs back. The only thing I would change about my experience is to get vets to check microchips. My two dogs were stolen and sold on and that's why I started campaigning.

Sir Bruce Forsyth and daughter Debbie Matthews (Image: ITV)

"Vets say it's best practice to check microchips registration at first treatment but the government need to make it compulsory to check microchips. A microchip is still your best chance."

Recalling the moment she realised her two dogs had been stolen Debbie added: "It never crossed my mind that someone might steal my dogs. I saw two men by my car and I thought it was strange that the dogs were not going mad.

"I started walking to the car but I couldn't see any reflection, so I started running and everything went into slow motion. I shouted 'are my dogs okay?' and the two men said 'what dogs?'

"The police said they would not come out to the scene of the crime because it was only dogs. They were and still are classified as property and that is low priority.

"Our dogs are members of our families, priceless and irreplaceable, they shouldn't be comparable to a phone or a laptop."

After a total of 10 painstaking days, Debbie was finally reunited with her dogs Gizmo and Widget following a live TV appeal alongside her dad Sir Bruce Forsyth on GMTV.

"The man who bought Widget from a livestock market in Southall was watching and called in. The following morning we said we were still looking for Gizmo and the lady who had bought him, in a park, was watching! I was one of the lucky ones," she added.

"My dad was Sir Bruce Forsyth, so it was easy for me to get the media help but I could see all the other missing dogs on Doglost, who had been helping us, and felt we could help others by starting Vets Get Scanning."

After years of campaigning MPs supporting microchipping finally debated the issue in parliament on June 28.

By law, all dogs in the UK must be microchipped and registered by the age of eight weeks. This law was passed in April 2016 and according to Blue Cross for Pets dog owners are also required to keep their pet’s details up to date with the database under the new law.

Debbie claims that although vets encourage owners to purchase microchips, they are not playing their part by checking them.

"The vets sell you the chips and then say it’s too time-consuming, they're too busy, too tired or overworked to check them. The veterinary profession are the ones making money from the love and care we have for our pets.

"They are the ones who see how much we love our pets and yet they don’t support the victims of dog theft or care about their dog's welfare issues from being stolen."


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