DOG-LOVER Dean Allen thought he had lost his dog forever after it was stolen in Wakefield.

But it had actually been innocently bought by a Swindon woman and had been living here for the past nine months.

The connection was only made after new owner 20-year-old Tayla Smyth took the Staffordshire bull terrier, Molly, to get chipped at her vets, only to discover she had one already.

When she found out her dog was stolen, Tayla made contact with real owner Dean Allen. And dog and owner were finally reunited at Swindon station after Dean made the 10-hour round-trip to pick up Molly, whose original name was Storm.

Dean, 48, said: “I put her all over social media to try and find her. I made phone calls and spoke to a lot of people.

“Then I got a call from the chip company to say there had been a ping on her a chip and I got in contact with the police.

“I can’t thank Tayla enough for chasing it up at her end or else it might never have happened.”

Storm was Dean's only companion as he lives alone and helped him get vital exercise.

Dean added: “To be honest I thought she’d been bred and sold on. I virtually lost hope of ever seeing her again.

“I’m so lucky that Tayla went through all the effort she did to buy her when she thought she was a rescue dog.

“I have arthritis and just walking the dog everyday keeps me mobile which I hadn’t had for nine months.

“She’s companionship and I love her. She’s my reason to get out of bed every day and it was all taken away from me.”

Dean lost Storm in March when he took her to a park near his home. He threw the ball from his usual bench but she never returned.

Tayla, from Haydon Wick, started looking for a dog when the first national Covid lockdown began in March last year and found Storm on Gumtree.

She originally offered £200 for the pooch – the asking price – but the cost rose to £500 after the owner said Molly was already going to someone else.

When she found out Molly was stolen, Tayla made every effort to find the rightful owner including calling the microchip company as well as Yorkshire Police.

Giving Molly up was tough for Tayla but she was committed to making sure she was going back to a safe home.

She said: “She had an amazing nine months with us and it was absolutely heartbreaking, I couldn’t stop shaking.

“But what went through my head was I didn’t want to give her up if she was going back to someone who couldn’t look after her.

“At the end of the day I loved her more than anything, I know she’s only a dog but to me she was a lot more.

“Hearing all this was such a shock.

"You never hear of someone buying a stolen dog and then being able to reunite them.”

Once being put in contact with Dean, Tayla realised reuniting the pair was the only decision she could make.

She added: “It was never about the money, £500 is nothing really.

"I said to myself if it was a loving family and if I could see she had been dearly missed then obviously I’m not going to be the type of person not to give her up.

“I was never going to give her to just everyone but when I spoke to Dean it really broke my heart and I realised she actually does belong to a loving home.”