Couple turns down dog rescue reward

Stephen and Allison Rainford
Stephen and Allison Rainford

A couple who helped reunite a mother-of-two with her beloved pooches have explained their decision to turn down a £20,000 reward.

Allison and Stephen Rainford, 47 and 49, first saw Deniqua Westwood’s desperate appeal on Facebook soon after her dogs were snatched from a stable yard.

Stephen, who owns his own sandblasting business, was tipped off by a friend about two large dogs running loose near a popular dog walking spot not far from the couple’s home in Appley Bridge.

Even though the couple, who have been married for 23 years, don’t have dogs of their own, they have always had a soft spot for large dogs – especially St Bernards.

Allison and Stephen first saw Deniqua Westwood’s desperate appeal on Facebook soon after her dogs were snatched from a stable yard.

They remembered Deniqua’s Facebook appeal and, on the off chance that they were the same dogs, Allison got in touch.

Personal assistant and mother-of-four Allison said: “I think it was the fact it was a St Bernard that stuck in our minds.

“The poor thing was blind, too, so that really pulled on our heart strings.

“We weren’t thinking about the reward at all if I’m being honest.

“She rang us as she was leaving the abandoned farm where they were and she sounded so terrified.

But by the time we were ready to go and help her she had rescued them and was on her way home.

“When we spoke on the phone she was very emotional and offered us the money, but we just couldn’t take it. That’s not why we did it at all.

“I have no regrets about the money at all. Just hearing the joy in her voice was more than enough for me.”

The lucky hounds were found almost a week after they had gone missing 40 miles away from their home.

Allison explained the couple, who also have two grandchildren, were initially treated with suspicion by the online community after they got in touch with Deniqua and people thought the kind-hearted pair may have something to do with the theft.

“I try not to get involved with people airing their dirty laundry online. We’re just so happy that we were able to get those dogs back to her,” said Allison.

“From what we gather that place could have been used for this kind of thing for years. It’s only five minutes drive up the road, but we had no idea.

“It’s awful really that people could snatch dogs like this – whether it’s for fighting or breeding or whatever.

“They were her babies. They really are like part of the family. That’s all there was to it, really.

“It would have been lovely before Christmas to get a nice £20,000 but I don’t think what we did justified that much money in any way.

“I don’t think I would have been able to sleep at night if we had taken it.”

She will be coming up to see us soon and we’re really looking forward to meeting to the dogs.

“I don’t know if she breeds them or is planning to, but we would love a St Bernard puppy.”

Ms Westwood contacted police to tell them about the farm, but no officers have been to visit her so far.