A DOG owner has warned walkers to take steps to keep their pooches safe after she suffered bruising when two hooded thieves tried to snatch her pet.

Frankie O’Brien was walking her two dogs near Roberts Road, Colchester, at around 7.30pm on April 23 when two men approached.

Although she was aware of regular social media posts warning of dog thefts, she said she was under the “false pretence” her two large dogs would not be targeted.

But the would-be thieves targeted her two-year old rescue Shar-Pei named Freya.

Frankie said: “The breed is renowned for their use in dog fighting and puppies can go for anything up to £2,500.

“I was in an alley near Roberts Close, on my regular route, when two men in dark jeans and hoodies approached me.”

Frankie said the pair initially “made a fuss” over her two dogs, before asking if Freya was a Sher-Pei.

“As soon as I said yes he went to grab the lead,” said Frankie.

As she suffers with suspected arthritis in her hands, Frankie has a special belt which clips onto the dog lead.

The thief yanked hard and Freya “went into guard dog mode” and bit his sleeve, causing the two men to flee.

“I ended up with a bruised hip from where he pulled the walking belt,” said Frankie.

“It left me really worried about walking them. I didn’t walk the dogs after that as I didn’t want to risk it.”

Frankie, who lived in the New Town area of Colchester, has since left the area and said she didn’t report the incident to the police as she didn’t get a good look at the two assailants.

But she wants other dog walkers to be aware of their surroundings and take steps to keep their dogs secure on leads.

The incident follows a number of dog thefts in Essex and Suffolk, with 37 dogs seized from an address in Feering last month.

The police operation involved officers from both Colchester and Braintree community policing teams.

Amongst the dogs were eight live and seven dead puppies.