A BEAUTICIAN who unwittingly bought a stolen dog reunited her with the owner 200 miles away.
Tayla Smyth, 20, spent eight lovely months with Molly, a Staffie.
But a visit to a vet then uncovered a surprise microchip.
After Tayla contacted the police, Molly’s overjoyed owner Dean Allen, 48, got in touch.
He got the train from Wakefield to Swindon for an emotional reunion on Sunday.
Tayla said: “Molly was my whole life. She didn’t leave my side.
"Giving her back felt like giving away my baby. I’m absolutely heartbroken — but it was the right thing to do.”
Dean’s white Staffie, called Storm, went missing last March after failing to return with a ball in his local park.
Tayla then paid £500 for her on Gumtree two months later and drove 160 miles to Chesterfield to get her.
She recalled: “The guy insisted I come the next day. I asked if she was chipped but he said he hadn’t got round to it.
"She looked a little thin, but I just thought she was well exercised.
"Apparently he’d paid £600 for her and she was now 11 months old.”
However, the dog is nearly six and is believed to have been bought and sold twice before Tayla got her.
Last December, she hurt a claw and the vet found the chip.
Dean said: “I was sure she must have been stolen because she never ran off without coming back.
“I’d given up hope of ever seeing her again.
“Words can’t express how grateful I am to Tayla. She’s done an amazing thing.”
Experts say 2020 was the worst year on record for dog thefts as crime gangs cashed in on a huge surge in demand for lockdown pets.
According to cops, they are up by 250 per cent, with Staffie pups fetching up to £2,000 online.
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