Woman with rare condition pleads for help finding stolen support dog ‘that got her through isolation’
A woman battling a rare autoimmune condition has pleaded for help to find her stolen support dog ‘that got her through isolation’.
Emma Key’s German shepherd Lola went missing from her livery yard on Whittington Lane, Unstone at around 4pm on Thursday, October 21.
Emma, 44, who suffers from type-2 autoimmune hepatitis, said it was out of character for her to go missing and she believed she had been stolen.
She said: “She’s a really loyal dog. She was there one minute and she was gone the next. There were a few people around, so that's why we think that she has been taken.”
Emma, of Dronfield, said she was worrying so much that she was struggling to sleep and she cannot stop thinking about whether Lola is okay.
“It’s so difficult, I can’t sleep because I want to know where she is and what’s happening to her.
“It’s bonfire night this weekend, which she’s never experienced before, so I just can’t stop thinking about what she’s going through, and I’m constantly searching online for her.”
Emma has also been the target of callous hoax callers, who told her they had found Lola and demanded thousands of pounds for her safe return.
She is, however, being supported by Beauty’s Legacy, a charity which helps reunite lost or stolen pets with their owners.
Lisa Dean runs the charity, for which Chris Packham CBE has recently become a patron. She said Lola had helped Emma through a difficult period in her life, and urged thieves to think of the impact their crimes have on pet owners.
“All of our animals are part of our families, but especially so for Emma - Lola is a support dog that has helped her through a horrific time. To anyone that’s committing this sort of crime, I would appeal to them to think about a point in their life where something happened to a loved one of theirs.
“Even if they aren’t animal lovers, if they can relate to losing somebody close to them, that's what it's like for pet owners - it’s one of the most traumatic things they will ever experience.”
Emma’s condition requires her to take immunosuppressants, leaving her extremely vulnerable to infections such as Covid-19.
As a result, she had to live on her own for much of the pandemic, while her husband stayed in a motorhome and Lola, helped her through the worst of her isolation.
“Lola is such a pleasant, friendly dog, she’s brilliant. I got Lola because I was feeling down, and she brightens my days - she was a rescue dog, but I think we rescued each other really.”
Lisa called on anyone with information on Lola’s whereabouts to report it in confidence to the charity, and recommended that all pet owners invest in a camera.
“Dog thefts have increased horrifically and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel yet, we’re getting inundated with calls for help.
“I cannot reiterate enough how important cameras are - they’re so accessible now, from a Ring doorbell to CCTV or a dashcam. The majority of the pets we get home are down to some kind of camera footage. If you’re an animal owner, I would urge you to get one and be extra-vigilant.”