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A family of four was left in “agony” after their beloved dog was stolen from their car in a Morrison parking lot.
The Kowalczyks, from Chingford, East London, were extremely traumatized by the incident on May 7th this year, but have not stopped looking for their beloved French bulldog, Tina.
“We’ll never give up,” said 21-year-old Joanna Kowalczyk, who was taking her final exams when Tina was stolen.
“We don’t care how many people try to stop us, to calm us down. We will never give up. “
The family had Tina for a year and a half.
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“It’s not just a dog. Especially for my father, Tina was a third daughter. If one of your children were kidnapped, would you ever give up? “
Joanna and her father went shopping at Morrisons together in May. They left Tina in the back seat of the car, hidden by tinted windows.
The family said it felt safe as they went there often and it was surrounded by cameras. Little did they know there were dog thefts like this.
“My husband would be more worried about his tools being left in the car than Tina,” explains her mother Patrycja Kowalczyk.
When they were carrying the groceries to the car half an hour later, they found that the rear window was smashed and Tina was gone.
“It was like a nightmare coming to life,” Joanna recalls.
“That’s the problem,” says Patrycja, a mother of two.
“People are not aware of this. Everyone needs to know they need to be more careful. That has to be talked about. “
Joanna adds, “The first week was an absolute ordeal. The thoughts that went through my mind were terrible.”
The family was so traumatized by the incident that the three shopping bags they brought back from the Morrisons trip lay on their kitchen floor for an entire week.
“The meat was rotten. The ice melted. We just didn’t care, ”says Joanna.
“Our whole world is frozen. All we could do was do things for Tina. “
On the advice of charities, the family immediately launched a major appeal to find them and posted hundreds of posters across the neighborhood.
Volunteers helping families in their situation started a Facebook group for them and extended the search to the whole of the UK. “I didn’t know anything about crime and nasty people, but at the same time I didn’t know that strangers can help you so much,” says Patrycja.
Unfortunately, they quickly became horrific prank calls from people claiming to have Tina. Criminals would lie, hold them captive, and charge hundreds of pounds in advance for their safe return.
They also say their Waltham Forest parish council ordered them to remove the posters or fined them £ 1,000.
“It’s bittersweet,” says Joanna, “because the people we thought were there to help us, like our local council and the police, did next to nothing.”
The family said the police did not take the incident seriously and wasted valuable days in the early stages of the investigation. “We had to find witnesses ourselves,” says Joanna. They say a number of important leads have not been followed up by the police.
Since then, the Kowalczyks have traveled across the UK following possible sightings of Tina on Facebook, but she never was.
Patrycja says: “We’re just worried about Tina.
“I think how is she feeling? Where is she now Do you take good care of her? “
Tina has a number of health problems. She suffers from pancreatitis and some severe allergies and requires a special diet. Patrycja remembers that the fridge for Tina was full of chicken breasts and often not much more.
They fear that they will not be receiving the proper care for their needs.
“We hardly left her alone. She was almost never alone. We went to church because we’re Catholics so we went there for an hour and when we came back she was so upset.
“She played with balloons and sat in the little basket we made for her so she could ride a bike with us. She loved watching TV. “
“She is not just ‘a dog’, she is a member of our family,” says Patrycja with tears. “We just want our lives back.”
“We miss her every day.”
The Kowalczyk family uses the hashtag #findtina on social media and has a Facebook page dedicated to search. You can find it here.
Waltham Forest Council and the Metropolitan Police were asked for comment but did not respond at the time of publication.
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