A gran has made a nationwide plea to be reunited with a beloved dog which helped her severely autistic granddaughter learn to talk.
Sharon Morton’s terrier-poodle cross Albi has not been seen since he ran away during a walk in October.
The pooch had formed a close bond with her granddaughter Mollie Matthews, five, helping the previously “isolated” child come out of her shell.
Sharon, 47, said: “She can’t understand what’s happened to him. It’s heartbreaking.”
Until Sharon got Albi two years ago, Mollie was only able to say a few words, could not hold a conversation with her parents or four siblings and would throw regular tantrums.
She made dramatic progress with Albi’s help and even started attending school full-time in September. But Mollie has deteriorated since he vanished.
Sharon, of Dover, Kent, said: “Once we got Albi we began to notice her little personality coming out for the first time.
“She started talking to Albi and interacting with him.
“He was her little best friend. Now he’s missing she doesn’t want to go out.
“She has tantrums and cries when she sees Albi’s missing posters. She asks, ‘Where is Albi?’ and says, ‘Albi come home’.”
Albi, aged two, was on a walk with Sharon’s husband Carl, 52, when he was spooked by a German shepherd dog and ran into a housing estate in Whitfield, Kent.
Sharon and her family have searched all over the county, even using a sniffer dog to track Albi’s scent.
Nothing has worked and they are fear he could have been taken anywhere in the UK.
They are now offering a £5,000 reward for his return.
Sharon added: “I haven’t slept for worrying about Mollie and where Albi is. It’s heartbreaking to see Mollie lose all the progress she made.
“The loss of Albi has affected the whole family, our lives have been turned upside down.
“We’ve put off moving and cancelled holidays to find Albi. I would give anything in the world to get him home and back to Mollie.”
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