A dog owner who tracked her missing pet to a house where she fears it was used for fighting is warning others to be vigilant.

Danielle Bateman, 21, returned to her home in Crooked Mile, Waltham Abbey, after a shopping trip on Monday to find her beloved three-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Lady missing.

She said: “I went out to Tesco and came home to find the front door open. There was a bit of wood missing.

“My other dog, a Rottweiler, Roxy, was still there and they normally do everything together.”

She put up missing posters and spoke to neighbours, who told her they had seen her dog being put into a black four-wheel drive.

On Wednesday afternoon, she had an anonymous call giving her an address in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

She said: “I went down with a friend. The house was disgusting and messy.

“My friend knocked on the door and the woman who answered tried to hide the dog and shut the door.

“But he put his foot in the door and said ‘that’s my dog.’

“The woman said she’d found her and phoned the police, but they’d bought her a lead.

“They had another Staffie at the home.”

She said Lady was injured and fears she had fought with another dog while being kept in the house.

She added: “She had scratches all over her and she’s not the same dog – she’s nervous and shaken up.

“She’s got a really big scratch on her head. The dog warden came down and said her hair probably won’t grow back there.

“I want to make other dog owners aware.”