A horrifying ‘dog dungeon’ was uncovered in a derelict farmhouse after a mum-of-two staged a dramatic rescue of her stolen pets.
Deniqua Westwood was reunited with her beloved dogs almost a week after they were snatched from a stable.
The huge dogs, Walter, a two-year-old bull-mastiff and Betty, a three-year-old blind St Bernard, were drugged and carted away in a haulage wheel barrow in a planned nighttime crime.
Distraught business owner Deniqua raised the alarm on social media and offered a staggering £20,000 reward for the safe return of the dogs.
The lucky hounds were found almost a week later 40 miles away from their home in a squalid farm house after Deniqua was tipped off by passing dog walker Stephen Rainford and his wife Allison.
Deniqua said at first she thought it was a wind up because the farm, near Wigan, Lancashire, was so far out of the way.
But when she drove to the site from her home in Horwich, she heard Walter’s familiar bark and after jumping a fence managed to find her two dogs.
The 30-year-old said: ‘The farm was down the bottom of an overgrown one track lane.
‘When I reached it I got out and called for the dogs, but couldn’t hear anything. Just as I was about to get back into the car I heard Walter’s bark. I couldn’t believe it.
‘He came sprinting out of a farm building. A few seconds later Betty followed him. I was in floods of tears.
‘I was really more panic than happiness though because I thought that there might be someone in there with them.
‘I jumped over the fence and managed to get them into the car.
‘I was on the phone to Stephen – who had spotted them and got in touch – and I was telling him that he would have to come and get me if someone blocked me on the lane.
‘I’ve never had a week like it. I should write a book.’
Once the dogs were safely back home, Deniqua returned to explore the squalid hovel in which they had been imprisoned for almost a week with a friend whose dogs had also been stolen a few days earlier.
The pair hoped that that the dogs would also be at the farm but Deniqua said the dank site was empty.
The mum-of-two said: ‘It was an absolute hell-hole inside.
‘We found in the centre of the whole site a tiny makeshift stable full of dog shit. They must have managed to get out by chewing through some loose wall boards and that’s when someone spotted them.
‘I was crying my eyes out. Everything was bolted and padlocked in there. The grass was flat where a vehicle had obviously been.
‘Honestly, it was terrible. There were cells inside, each one padlocked there must have been about 20 locks.
‘It looks like other dogs have been there, you can see where they have been.
Luckily they weren’t hurt. Betty had some friction burns on her front legs where she had been tied up, but nothing more than that.
‘They had been in there for five days I think, so God knows what they were planning on doing with them.’
Deniqua contacted police to tell them about the farm, but no officers have been to visit her so far.
She believes that it is the work of criminals as the tail of her horse was hacked off during the theft at the Lancaster-based stable and equine equipment was also stolen.
Stephen Rainford and his wife Allison refused payment for tracking down the pets.
The RSPCA and Lancashire police have been contacted for comment.