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Ex-BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones has described the “extraordinary outpouring of concern” he received from social media users when his 15-year-old family pet, Cabbage was stolen on Friday morning.
Cabbage and five other dogs were taken when Mr Cellan-Jones’ dog walker had stopped off near a park in Acton to see if a relative wanted to join him on the walk – but had left the van’s engine running with the key in the ignition.
As the van sped away with the dogs inside, Mr Cellan-Jones quickly appealed to users online and said the reaction was an example of using social media for “really good purposes”.
“This was (an) extraordinary outpouring of concern … Social media has lots of negative sides, but you can use it for really good purposes,” the 63-year-old told the PA news agency.
Something terrible has happened. Our dog walker’s van with our dog Cabbage in it has been stolen while he was picking up another pet. Please look out for a black Ford Transit reg AF20 XZD.
Take a photo and DM me or just ring the police
— Rory Cellan-Jones (@ruskin147) November 12, 2021
“I’ve been on Twitter since 2007… So, it’s just second nature to me to think about that,” he explained of his first appeal which accrued over 10,000 retweets on Twitter.
“Adrian Chiles is a very good friend of mine and he was presenting (on BBC Radio 5 Live), so I WhatsApped him… And then right at the end of his show, he did mention it.”
After seeing the news online, Ford’s press office soon got in touch to alert the dog walker that the Transit Van had a feature which enabled drivers to track the vehicle through an app.
“Ford would not have known about this before the age of social media,” Mr Cellan-Jones added.
The van was located in Park Royal around a mile and half from where four of the dogs were soon found.
“What happened in the end was something quite traditional – a bloke in Park Royal saw these four dogs, saw that our dog had a dog tag with my mobile phone number on it and called us.”
The fifth dog had been found during this time around 7pm while the sixth, a cockapoo called Bafi, was picked up in Putney at 10pm.
More than 60,000 Twitter users celebrated Cabbage’s safe return by liking the former journalist’s celebratory tweet.
The beloved collie cross was home by eight o’clock.
“She went straight to the water bowl and then she got two sausages in her bowl.”