The Wokingham Paper

Stolen puppy found in Twyford could lead to law change

Fern was stolen when she was just one year old, from her home in Surrey. Picture: Jodie Ferrier

A FAMILY reunited with their stolen puppy will soon have their petition for compulsory microchip checking considered for debate in parliament. 

Jodie Ferrier’s black spaniel, Fern was stolen from her Chessington farm in Surrey on Sunday, April 28, 2013.

Six years later, the family — who now live in the Isle of Wight — were reunited at Twyford Veterinary Clinic after an unexpected and emotional telephone call.

Stephanie-Rose Ball, who worked at the clinic, had no idea how long the family had been searching when she called Mrs Ferrier. 

“There’s not a day that goes past that I don’t think of that call,” said Mrs Ferrier. “Her voice echoes around my head, the way she said ‘I think we’ve got your dog’. She didn’t realise the enormity of the situation.”

Fern had been found more than 80 miles from her family, when Ms Ball scanned the dog’s microchip after the animal arrived at the vets. 

Now Mrs Ferrier and her family are calling for compulsory microchip checking at every pet’s first vets appointment. 

“Searching for Fern was almost like a full-time job,” she said. “We pushed to boost her profile everywhere, she even featured on the Alan Titchmarsh Show as a lost dog. 

“And we pushed the Vets Get Scanning campaign, which was started 14 years ago by Debbie Mathews, the daughter of Sir Bruce Forsyth. 

“Her two dogs were stolen, and she started campaigning to make the scanning and checking of microchips compulsory. At the moment it’s just best practice.”

After the family was reunited with Fern, Mrs Ferrier and Mrs Mathews teamed up to create Fern’s Law

Currently, the law requires all dogs to be microchipped. But it’s not compulsory for vets to scan the microchips. 

“It’s all about awareness,” said Mrs Ferrier. “People think that a microchip solves all of their problems if their dog is lost or stolen. But it doesn’t.

“Even after we returned to the Isle of Wight with her, I had to push for our vets to scan her chip, and check again.”

Fern is now reunited with her family in their Isle of Wight home. Picture: Jodie Ferrier

On the anniversary of Fern’s return home, Mrs Ferrier wrote a social media post describing the moment the family was reunited.

She wrote: “The door to another room opened and out came a panting and stressed little black dog. I knew instantly it was her by her sideways wiggle. I let her approach me and she went to walk past … But something caught her attention and she doubled back. She knew it was me.

“I can’t really put into words how I felt at that moment. My little storm cloud just blew away. She was safe. She was well. She was coming home. 

“After a very tearful time chatting to the wonderful Twyford team and telling the story we were finally on our way home.” 

The post, which was read more than 3.5 million times and shared 40,000 times gave the petition for Fern’s Law momentum.

Within a week, it had grown from 38,000 signatures to the required 100,000 for a parliamentary debate.

If approved for debate, Mrs Ferrier hopes that all vets will be legally obliged to scan and check microchip registration in the future. 

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