Dubai: A Dubai resident is spearheading what is possibly the most widescale pet hunts in the UK.
When Debbie Lawson, a Dubai resident for the past six years, heard last December that her dog Kito had gone missing in August in the West Midlands, UK, her initial reaction was to break down and cry.
However, after managing to get over the heartbreak, she swung into action by contacting pet detective agency Animal Search UK to help her find Kito, putting up a reward of £1,000 (Dh5,730) on his return.
"Kito and I lived for three years on our farm until early 2004 when I had to leave the UK to follow my now-husband to Dubai," she said.
Leaving Kito, a Rhodesian ridgeback, was among the hardest things for Debbie. Help was on hand when Sian and David Froggatt agreed to give him a home on their 400-acre farm. "For the last six years, Kito's been in dog heaven, living as a free-range dog with a family of four humans, six jack Russels and many horses," said Debbie, who used to fly home every six months to visit her dog.
Her illusion of Kito's perfect world was shattered on December 14, when she found out that he had gone missing since August 7. Within days Animal Search UK had been commissioned to find Kito. Although a relatively unheard of concept in the UAE, pet detective agencies are extremely popular in the UK.
"They have contacted dog rescues, regional police, gypsy liaison police officers, refugees, county councils, dog wardens, transport police, network rail, environmental departments for roads and highways, vets and boarding kennels across Staffordshire and the six surrounding counties.
"An anonymous toll free number (0800-4320340) has been set up for anyone who has information on the whereabouts of Kito. There's a £1,000 reward for Kito's return; a Facebook page "Please Help Find Kito", plus notices on the Animal Search UK website and posters all over Staffordshire and the six surrounding counties," she said.
And yet, there is still no word on Kito. "I have no children. Kito's the closest I could have to a child. Instinct tells me he's been stolen. He's a big dog, weighing 45kg. You can't knock down an animal that size and leave no trail of the murder. Someone's got him. And that's theft," said Debbie.
Although micro-chipped, Kito was without a tag or a collar. Debbie assumes he may have been stolen for either dog fighting or breeding purposes. "Ridgeback Rhodesians are not aggressive dogs by nature. He wouldn't know what to do in a dog fight. Plus, he's nine years old and neutered, so [he] can't breed anyway. He's useless to anyone except those who love him," said Debbie, who's accepted the fact that she may never see her dog again.
"If he's been killed, I need to know. The Froggatts and I need closure. We have to either say goodbye to our little boy or help bring him home."
If push came to shove, no amount of money would be too much. "I'd give every single penny I own if it would mean my baby came home," said Debbie.