The owners of a rare Japanese raccoon dog that was stolen in Oldham has issued a desperate plea for information on their beloved animal.
Reggie, a three-year-old Tanuki, was stolen from an enclosure at a property in Lees, Oldham on Tuesday evening (May 18).
Sarra Mackenzie-Pilot has owned Reggie since he was nine months old, after a friend bred him.
While it has been illegal to sell or breed raccoon dogs since a change in law in February 2019, existing owners prior to the change have been allowed to keep their animals.
Due to being an invasive species, Reggie is kept in an adapted enclosure outdoors that fits to his specific needs.
“He has an enclosure in the garden because technically he is a wild animal,” Sarra told the Manchester Evening News .
“It’s how the RSPCA have recommended that we keep him. They can be very aggressive – they’re not pets.
“If he doesn’t know you then the chances are he will attack you. That’s not his fault, that’s just his nature. He’s not a pet.”
On Wednesday morning, Sarra went to feed Reggie and discovered the door to his enclosure was wide open and the padlock was gone.
“I had checked on him the night before, as they’re nocturnal, and he was fine but when I went out at 7am to feed him, he wasn’t there,” Sarra explained.
“Someone has been in the night, removed the lock from the enclosure and, to add insult to injury, taken the padlock with them too.
“The enclosure is in our back garden and it’s not overlooked by anything so the police have said that he’s definitely been scoped out because you have to have known he was there.
“The police told us they have seen a 300 pc rise in stolen animals from homes in the last year.”
Despite attempts to find him, Sarra has not yet been able to track Reggie down and is now concerned about his well-being.
“He needs the stimulation and diet that he would have in the wild – he can’t have cat biscuits or dog food,” Sarra explains.
“As they’re nocturnal and hibernate, their diet needs to be altered accordingly and that means feeding them foods with higher fat and protein during the winter.
“They’re omnivorous so they also need a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.”
Sarra says that two of Reggie’s favourite things are tomatoes and eggs.
“He absolutely loves cherry tomatoes,” she says.
“He makes a squeal whenever we give them to him. He likes to roll them around and then pounce on them.
“He also loves hard-boiled eggs. In the wild, he would raid the nests of ground-dwelling birds and steal their eggs so we usually provide him with an egg every other day.
“We try to give him as varied a diet as he would have in the wild.”
While she does fear that she might never see Reggie again, Sarra remains optimistic as he is so unique.
“The existing Tanuki are the only ones in the country – that’s all there can be due to the new laws in place,” she explains.
“So they’re very rare and very hard to get.
“I hope that someone will realise one of their neighbours has suddenly got this weird pet – you can’t pass him off as anything else, you can’t say he’s a Yorkshire terrier or anything, it’s very obvious what he is.
“He looks like some bizarre racoon cross badger, he doesn’t look like a dog, so I do hope that someone will realise and will get in touch with the police to let them know.”
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Sarra says she just wants Reggie to be returned so that he can receive the care and attention he requires.
She said she fears someone has taken him thinking he would be a suitable pet and will soon realise how much complex the care needed to look after him is.
“You wouldn’t have a badger in your house and it’s like that,” Sarra adds.
“Someone could get really hurt by him.
“Someone foolish is going to think he’s some kind of pet and if ends up attacking them then it might not end well for him.
“He isn’t going to get the care that he needs from someone who doesn’t know what he is.
“It is paramount that he comes home so that he can get the proper care he needs.”
Anyone with information on Reggie can contact GMP on 101 or contact the Manchester Dog Warden on 0161 234 5004.