Dog owners have reacted with horror after online reports suggested a woman was subjected to a horrific snatch attempt on a Wigan street
The incident happened in Springfield last week and may not be the only time pets have nearly been grabbed from their owners, according to the allegations posted on social media.
Other news: 'We don't want to strike' say drug and alcohol staff on picket line in pay dispute
The accounts suggest a woman was walking her pet puppy when a small white van pulled up alongside her.
The barking of dogs could be heard clearly coming from inside the vehicle.
A man then came up behind her and shoved her into a wall before trying to take the dog.
Fortunately the woman had connected the canine’s lead to her waist and the attempt to grab the animal failed.
Online reports say the matter has been reported to the police and some accounts suggested officers told the victim there had been a spate of similar incidents in the borough in recent times.
Equally concerningly, among the hundreds of concerned comments which have flooded Facebook in the wake of the allegations were Wigan residents saying similar things had happened to them.
The Standish Dog Trainer account, which said the victim attended puppy classes run by the business, said both human and animal had suffered no ill effects from their ordeal but the owner was left badly shaken by the dramatic events.
The post continued: “Please be safe folks, keep an eye on your dogs, walk in places where you have good visibility, make sure family know where you are going walking, and what time you are expected back. Take care and look out for each other.”
More than 500 replies have now been posted, mainly from horrified pet owners in Wigan.
As well as the appalling use of physical force against a dog walker the suggestion barking could be heard inside the vehicle driven by the offender has alarmed those worried about animal welfare.
And some messages have included accounts of other people being approached suspiciously when dog walking.
One post said: “Very sorry for what happened here - and I hope both have a full recovery - cannot help thinking though about the dogs already on the van and whether they had already been nabbed.”
Another message said: “Glad they are ok after such a terrifying scare. I have had a similar, if less violent incident happen to me. I now can’t stop worrying about those other dogs in the van. I hope he is caught soon.”
Another said: “Last week my husband was walking our German shepherd and a man in a white van asked if my lad was a police dog.
“Luckily my lad’s back went up and starting his barking and growling so hopefully that scared him off.
“It just goes to show they are after any dog.”
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers said they were unaware of the allegations until they were passed details of the social media posts.
A spokesman for the force said: “Dog owners will be understandably alarmed by the reports circulating on social media and while we have had no reports or complaints we would encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious to contact the police.”