Molly the magpie to be reunited with dog best friend Peggy

Molly the magpie and Peggy the Staffordshire bull terrier
The bird and Staffordshire bull terrier have lived side by side for four years - Juliette Wells

A magpie and a Staffordshire bull terrier who struck up an unlikely friendship before being separated are to be reunited thanks to an intervention by an Australian state premier.

The magpie, called Molly, was taken away by Queensland’s Department of Environment because it was being kept illegally by Reece Mortensen and Juliette Wells.

The couple had begun caring for the bird as a chick after it fell from a nest in a park on the Gold Coast four years ago. But the bird became attached to Peggy, the family’s dog, and refused to leave.

For social media, it was a match made in heaven. The animals have an Instagram page called Peggyandmolly which, before they were separated by the authorities, offered “a daily dose of happiness and fun with mumma Peggy (and) Molly the magpie”. It has more than 800,000 followers.

Photos show Molly cuddling up with its canine companion on a couch, nibbling Peggy’s ear and lying on a rug alongside the dog. The two animals also feature in an Easter tableau complete with chocolate eggs, fluffy bunnies and bunches of flowers.

Molly and Peggy snuggling together on the couch
Molly and Peggy snuggling together on the couch - Juliette Wells

Last month, Ms Wells and Mr Mortensen were forced to hand over the bird because it was being kept without a licence.

“Animals from the wild must stay wild,” a spokesman explained at the time.

The forced removal triggered a petition by Molly’s fans who called on environmental authorities to return it.

The demand struck a chord with Steven Miles, the premier of Queensland, who gave his backing to calls for the animals to be reunited.

Mr Miles revealed on Wednesday that the situation had been reassessed.

“This morning the department has advised me that the couple can secure the appropriate licence,” he said. “The team will work with them now to do that.”

He added: “It’s good news and means that Molly can be home very soon. I’ve spoken to Reece and Juliette and reassured them Molly is in great spirits and receiving good care.”

Australian magpies have a life expectancy of up to 30 years but by law are not permitted to live in captivity as a domestic animal.

The unlikely friendship between the animals inspired Ms Wells to write a book about the pair
The unlikely friendship inspired Ms Wells to write a book about the pair

The couple said they were delighted the animals would soon be reunited.

“We are so relieved and excited . We actually spoke with the premier this morning, so it’s still all new,” Ms Wells said.

The pair said they had been deeply touched by the level of public support.

“It has blown our minds, we can’t believe it ... these guys (the magpie and the dog) have certainly touched many, many hearts all around the world,” Ms Wells said.

Mr Mortensen said the couple would meet with Queensland’s Environment Department on Thursday to find out when Molly would be able to return home.

“We still don’t know how long it will take until we actually get Molly home,” he said. “We’ve got a few hoops to jump through ... there’s a gentleman on his way now with some paperwork with some terms and conditions.”

Molly would often copy Peggy as they spent the day together.

As her canine fried lolled on her back with legs akimbo, the magpie would follow suit, her wings splayed while the pair rested.

Once awake they would stand to attention side by side, Molly’s beak and Peggy’s jaws awaiting their next feed.

Their improbable friendship was dubbed  a “real life Winnie-the-Pooh” story by local media.