By Hayley Pugh
A devastated dad has employed an ex-copper and launched a huge Crimewatch style appeal to find the missing dog that helped him beat cancer.
Olly Hall, from Bedford, has enlisted the help of a pet detective for the nationwide appeal which includes road check points, a dedicated phone line, an incident room, a marked search car and door-to-door enquires.
The 61-year-old was left heartbroken when his white Staffordshire Bull Terrier – called Kemo after the treatment that saved his life – went missing on February 8.
Olly’s wife, Deborah, 54, had bought her husband the dog as a gift a couple of years ago to lift his spirits during gruelling rounds of chemotherapy for throat cancer.
And Olly, a lorry driver, who is now in remission, credits his beloved pet with helping to save to his life.
Deborah, a care-worker, said: “My husband was out walking Kemo with our other dogs when he dashed off to chase a rabbit.
“He usually comes straight back but this time he didn’t.
“It’s devastating because Olly sees Kemo as his lucky charm. He got him through some really dark days.
“We were so low after the cancer diagnosis and Kemo was just a bundle of joy. He really lifted our spirits and was a great distraction for Olly.
“We have four children and two grandchildren, everyone loves him and he is absolutely one of the family.”
After several weeks of searching for the two-year-old staffy the family have now enlisted the help of former policeman and real-life pet detective, Tom Watkins, who is spearheading a nationwide campaign called Finding Kemo.
Tom, who used to be a bobby on the streets of Birmingham, now runs Britain’s largest pet detective service – Animal Search UK – from his offices in Hereford.
The real-life Ace Ventura has worked with celebrities including Abbey Clancy and Emma Bunton and the 43-year-old boasts an 80 per cent success rate.
In a bid to find Kemo Tom has opened what is thought to be the first ever missing pet incident checkpoint and along with his colleagues, is manning a Crimewatch style 0800 24-hour incident line and a dedicated incident room.
He has also printed hundreds of leaflets and posters and has carried out door-to-door enquires, as well as filming an emotional appeal video with desperate Olly and dispatching a marked search car.
Tom said: “We’ve introduced a uniformed presence into the mix and in a move never seen before in pet search investigations, set up a road check point at the exact place Kemo was last seen by his owner.
“We have a marked search car- rather like police car markings – and our team are stopping cars and pedestrians travelling through that location to canvass them and see if anyone has information.
“Our in-house Crimewatch style 24 hour call centre is also be accepting calls, anonymous or otherwise from the public.
“I am confident that everything we are doing brings us one step closer to finding Kemo.
“As we believe he may have changed hands into those of a person not realising his history- I’d urge the person who has him now to drop him off at any vets as a ‘found’ dog. No questions asked.
“I firmly believe we’re getting closer every day.”