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Desperate Appeal To Find Blind Foster Dog Presumed ‘Stolen’ In Cornwall

The RSPCA has issued a desperate appeal to help find a rescue dog who has gone missing from his foster home in Cornwall. 

Twelve-year-old crossbreed Max was originally rescued from the streets of Greece before eventually ending up in RSPCA care where he was taken on by experienced fosterer and adopter, Louise Heeley-Lawrence.

Louise and her family – who are from Hertfordshire but are in the process of moving to their new farm in Cornwall – have fostered many animals from RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre over the years.

Max was rescued from the Greek streets by his previous owner who brought him to the UK. But when poor Max became incontinent in his older age, they couldn’t cope and handed him to us.

A Southridge spokesperson said: “We knew it would be tough to find a new home for an older dog with toileting problems so we set out in search of a long-term foster home via our Pensioners’ Scheme. When we asked Louise – who’d had a number of dogs from us over the years – she didn’t hesitate and he’s had a wonderful life with her and her family ever since.”

Just eight weeks after Max joined the family in March 2020, he developed a condition that caused him to lose his eyesight almost overnight. Louise said: “Thankfully he adapted quickly and well to going blind and he continued to have a lovely quality of life. Although he’s an elderly lad, he’s quite independent. He’s a real survivor and is used to fending for himself although losing his eyesight did mean he relied on us a little more.”

The family are in the process of moving to their farm in St Keverne and Max has been living there with Louise’s husband, Karl, since May. On 12 September, Max and five of the family’s other dogs were pottering around the fenced yard off of the cottage that sits in the middle of the 40 acre farm. 

Louise said: “Karl was working on the farm and the dogs were in the yard. He was trying to fix a piece of machinery just outside the open yard gate. When he popped into the kennel kitchen, Max was fast asleep on the sofa. Around 90 minutes later, he returned to the kitchen to feed the dogs and Max was nowhere to be seen.”

He searched everywhere for Max, panicked, and called Louise who was at their home in Hertfordshire. She headed down to Cornwall the following day where the whole family searched the farm.

“We’ve tried everything and looked everywhere,” she said. “We were convinced he’d turn up when he got hungry and that he must have wandered off. We brought in two tracking dogs and searched the whole area with our own dogs. We were sure our four lurchers would pick up his scent but there was nothing. 

“We sent two drones up and used thermal imaging and telescopic cameras to search the farm. We shared his photo on social media, put up posters, and spoke to everyone in the area. There have been no sightings, no trace of him and no clue. We thought maybe he’d gone off and passed away somewhere but we’ve searched and searched and searched and he’s nowhere to be found. I’ve crawled in every bush and looked everywhere; I’m now at a complete loss. 

“I thought someone might have stolen him; maybe they’d driven up our track – which is almost a mile long – and seen Max sniffing and opportunistically taken him.”

Then on Tuesday (28 September), they received a worrying phone call from a stranger who claimed to have Max. 

Louise said: “It was a man and he said he had my dog. He said if I hung up or contacted the police that he’d kill him and send me the video. I was panicking and my children came and recorded the conversation. He said he wanted £500 wired to his bank account and then he’d drop Max back at home.”

The family have reported Max’s disappearance and the phone call to police who are now investigating. But they are still none the wiser as to where Max is and are desperate to have him home so have offered a reward for his safe return. 

“We’re so worried about Max, particularly due to his age and his lack of vision,” Louise said. “We just miss him so much and we desperately want him home where he belongs.”

Max is an older dog with two distinguishing features: his back left leg turns out and he has a bald patch on his rump, just above his tail to the left. His bottom teeth are worn down to the gum line but you cannot tell he’s blind to look at him.

Max is microchipped and his chip is registered to RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact Louise by emailing Louisapastaroni1@aol.com or contact Southridge by calling 0300 123 0704.