Boneheaded dognappers bit off more than they could chew when they tried to steal a giant search and rescue dog which turned on the thugs making them flee in terror.
The dimwitted thieves made a grab for Nellie, a 30 kilo Belgian Malinois, as they pretended to chat to her owner.
The breed is normally used by the US army as a combat dog in war zones.
Toby Currier, 19, said the clownish dognappers suddenly grabbed her lead but jumped back in fright when the mutt showed her teeth and lunged at the yobs thinking they were going to attack her owner.
He said it was a shame he had to restrain Nellie as she could have easily had both thugs for breakfast.
Toby, who works with Nellie as a volunteer for Denmead Drone Search and Rescue which uses drones and dogs to find missing people in Portsmouth, Hants, said: "Nellie and I were walking home from Cosham along Havant Road in the evening when we were approached by two men.
"One bent down to make a fuss of Nellie while the other started asking questions about what breed she was.
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"I refused to answer their questions and then one of them suddenly tried to grab her lead.
"Nellie started barking at them and then lunged at the men. She almost grabbed one of them as they had clearly startled her.
"They got a real fright when they saw how strong she was and ran off down a side road.
"She’s normally a very gentle, friendly dog but she clearly thought they were either going to attack me or take her.
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"Looking back I’m quite pleased that Nellie taught them a lesson and it’s a shame they got away.
"If these scum try and steal a Belgiant Malinois then they will definitely try and take smaller dogs.
“You have got to be pretty dim to try and steal a dog like Nellie. They are very athletic and are used by the army and police.”
Supermarket worker Toby said both men spoke with foreign accents and wore face coverings.
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A Hampshire Police spokeswoman said: ‘We received a report on Thursday 28 January at 8.13pm of a suspicious incident that took place on Havant Road, Portsmouth, at 6.10pm on Wednesday 27 January.
"It was reported that two men had engaged in conversation with a member of the public before one of them attempted to take the lead of the person’s dog. The dog was not injured and both men ran away.
“This matter has currently been filed pending further lines of enquiry becoming available.’
Denmead Drone Search and Rescue (DDSAR),founded by former Met Police officer Antony Ruming, has hundreds of volunteers across the county who use drones, dogs, off-road vehicles, and even horse riders – who use their high vantage point – to look for pets and people who go missing.
Since March their actions have reunited owners with dogs and their public appeals through social media have helped trace missing people too.
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