Jolanta Marczyk, a 23-year-old who works at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, drove from her native Poland across the border to Lviv to bring eight-month-old dachshund Brandy to safety from Vladimir Putin’s war.
But on Thursday evening – days after she drove with Brandy back to the UK – the puppy was said to have been stolen from Ms Marczyk’s car in Grays, Essex.
A neighbour alleged to The Independent that two of the windows of Ms Marczyk’s vehicle were smashed, while footage taken by another witness appeared to show two people running from the car – with one clutching a puppy apparently snatched through its window.
But the “terrified” puppy managed to escape during the alleged theft attempt, leaving Ms Marczyk and other residents searching for her “through the night”, according to Aneta Wasilewska, a 37-year-old sales specialist who lives nearby.
Ms Wasilewska, who told The Independent that she saw some of the incident unfold while letting her cats in from her balcony, claimed that one suspect had jumped into a white van and it had been unclear whether they had driven after Brandy or merely fled the scene.
Hours later, Brandy was found in the street by a member of the public, who took her to a veterinary surgery in Basildon.
Ms Marczyk was reunited with Brandy at Vets4Pets surgery after spotting a social media post – but was told that the puppy had been left with multiple skull fractures, requiring significant dental surgery expected to cost thousands of pounds.
Ms Wasilewska, who has set up a GoFundMe page which has so far raised more than £4,600 towards Brandy’s medical bills and who has taken Ms Marczyk to visit Brandy in hospital, said that the vets were unsure what exactly had caused the puppy’s injuries.
Due to her injuries, Brandy was left unable to eat and was receiving fluids and vitamins via a drip, according to Ms Wasilewska.
The puppy returned home on Sunday prior to further surgery, which is expected to take place on Tuesday morning.
Essex Police said it was investigating reports made on Thursday evening that three people had forced their way into a car on West Street and taken a dachshund from the vehicle.
“We understand the dog has thankfully been located however our enquiries into the incident continue,” a spokesperson told The Independent. “We need anyone who saw anything or has any CCTV, doorbell [or] dash cam footage to contact us.”
If you have any information you can submit a report online at https://www.essex.police.uk or use the ‘Live Chat’ button to speak to an online operator between 7am-11pm, quoting 42/75490/22.
You can also call the police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.