AN elderly man who saved for months to buy a dog only to have his savings stolen, has had his Christmas wish come true.

Thomas Johns had been saving for a new dog following the death of his last canine companion, Patch, who died in 2017 aged 16.

The 72-year-old dog-lover was looking forward to having some company with a new pet but was devastated when his hard-earned cash was stolen in a series of thefts.

However, Police officers in Bishop Auckland were so moved by Mr Johns that they decided to make some additional enquiries with the Stray Aid charity, and staff agreed to allow Mr Johns to adopt one of their dogs free of charge.

The retired factory worker said he was shocked and delighted when he was taken to the Coxhoe-based charity yesterday to pick out his new companion which was a surprise.

And it was puppy love when he met five-year-old terrier cross, Tex, during the visit.

The pair had an instant bond, with Tex leaving the centre for his forever home with Mr Johns.

Mr Johns was joined by, DC Sarah Rooney, PC Matt Stasiak, investigating officer Louise Coglan and DS Clare Lambert, who are all part of winter nights team, within South Durham CID.

With the help of PCSO Beth Maddox, officers also gifted Mr Johns with some goodies including a dog bed, toys and food, that were donated by the Pets at Home store in Bishop Auckland.

Mr Johns, of Spennymoor, said he wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who had made the adoption happen and was delighted with his new pet.

He said: “I have always been a dog lover but it’s been over two years since my last dog passed away and I was saving up for a new one when the burglary happened.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to afford one now so this has been a great surprise.

“I’m retired so it will be great to have some company again and I will take good care of Tex.”

DC Rooney said the team has worked hard on the case, which is currently going through the court process, and were delighted that the charity and Pets at Home had agreed to help Mr Johns’ wishes come true.

She said: “Thomas had been saving £5 to £10 every week so he could come here and get a new dog but when he was the victim of crime all of the money was taken which was devastating, so it has been lovely to bring him here and be able to make that wish happen.

“Being the victim of crime can have a lasting impact so we hope Tex can help Mr Johns work through it and bring him some happiness.

“This is definitely one of the most rewarding parts of the job for us, especially at Christmas time.”

Stray Aid founder and director, Sue Bielby, added: “We understand how much love and companionship a dog can bring and we cannot bear the thought of what’s happened to Mr Johns so it’s been great to gift him Tex.”

The charity relies heavily on donations. Anyone wishing to donate or find out more about giving a dog a home should visit