Stolen dog returns home with help of online appeals
A Co Down family have told of their delight at being reunited with their dog after she is believed to have been stolen.
Daisy, a six-year-old Jack Russell Pomeranian crossbreed, had been missing from her Portavogie home for a week when she was spotted running towards a motorway near Broughshane, Co Antrim.
Thanks to support from the local community and the power of Facebook, the Whiteside family welcomed their beloved pet back home last Saturday, August 17.
Paul Whiteside reported Daisy missing having suspected she was stolen on Wednesday, August 14, after days of extensive searching.
The Portavogie man said he had hoped for a positive result when multiple sightings of a woman with the dog were reported.
But when days passed without any news about Daisy, who is fitted with a microchip, the owners began to worry about sinister involvement.
It is unclear how Daisy made her way to a village roughly 50 miles north of her own. Police are investigating the incident as a possible theft.
Mr Whiteside said it was a distressing time for himself and his wife Philippa and daughters Victoria (22), Rachel (19) and Rebekah (16).
"Everything was going through my mind," he said. "Had she been knocked down? Was she injured?
"I was searching fields and ditches; she's not a big dog so we thought if something bad had happened she would have been thrown into a field somewhere."
However, the dog was never handed to a vet and no attempt appeared to have been made to reunite Daisy with her owners.
"Every day that goes past you think maybe today, and each day you're more disheartened and wondering will we ever get her back," Mr Whiteside said.
Local residents told the family they had seen a woman in the area with a dog. CCTV footage later confirmed the dog was Daisy.
"We were at least reassured she wasn't dead, the people thought she seemed to be a dog lover so that was positive," Mr Whiteside said.
"We hoped something good would come out of it, the fact that she was even still alive and that someone seemed to be taking care of her was a positive for us."
A member of the public spotted Daisy running near a motorway slip road in Broughshane on Saturday and passed her to the Mill Veterinary Clinic, which reunited her with the Whitesides after seeing Facebook posts which had reached over 50,000 people.
"We are just delighted to have her back," said Mrs Whiteside, after making the trip to Broughshane to retrieve Daisy.
"We couldn't even wait until Paul finished work to head up to Antrim, we just needed her back."
The Whiteside family said they are overwhelmed by the support shown by the people of Portavogie, with hundreds of shares online and comments hoping for the dog's safe return.
Mrs Whiteside also credited Leigh Gamble, who works in the local Mace, for her help in publicising the search and contacting lost pet websites and vets.
"Leigh was immediately on the ball," said Paul, after the local businesswoman spotted the woman on the shop's forecourt with the dog.
"She has been amazing," said Philippa. "I knew her to see but I've never really had any dealings with her. But the amount of posts and shares on Facebook was just crazy.
"The people of the village have been so supportive and everyone is so glad that we got her back.
"When you live in a village like this, everybody knows.
"Daisy will be famous, so she had better behave herself."