A BUNDABERG woman has been forced to make a 10-hour round trip to Dalby and will have to foot vet bills after her dog was stolen and left injured near a highway.
Angela Clark said her three-and-a-half-year-old American bulldog Dukey was taken from her yard in broad daylight in central Bundaberg on Tuesday.
"I noticed one of my back gates was open," she said.
"The gates never get opened.
"I pulled up and my dog was gone."
The mum of two spent a restless day and night looking for her dog and posting messages on Facebook pages across the region, as well as contacting the RSPCA and council.
But it was the next day when a call came from a pound worker in Dalby that she found out just how far away her beloved pet was.
"He said he had a dog there registered to my name," she said.
"He'd been dumped on the side of the highway near Dalby.
"I just bawled; I didn't know if I was happy or sad."
Miss Clark said she was delighted to be reunited with the dog she adopted from the RSPCA, but says Dukey was left with a sore leg.
"Now he's got to go to the vet," she said.
"I've got to pay to drive there and back and pay the release fees.
"I borrowed money and got a loan."
Miss Clark said she also had to prove Dukey was her dog in order to bring him back home.
"I have to take all his adoption forms," she said.
Miss Clark said she couldn't imagine what why anyone would put her four-legged friend, who suffers panic attacks, through such an ordeal.
"They must have realised he had a skin disorder and maybe he had a panic attack and they decided to dump him," she said.
She said although she had installed a six-foot, bolted fence, it hadn't been enough to deter the heartless thieves.
"They're not safe at all," Miss Clark said.
"Keep an eye out that dogs are getting stolen again."
The dog lover said pet owners should understand the importance of microchipping - which essentially saved Dukey's life by reuniting them.
"Microchipping is the most important thing you can do for your animal," she said.