A family on holiday in West Sussex were forced to hire a pet detective and extend their trip by weeks after their beloved dog Spillo went missing during a walk.
In a bid to find the 15-year-old mongrel, Henrik Bierer-Nielsen, his wife Sharon, and their daughter Laura, estimate they have spent thousands of pounds – using thermal camera equipment, three sets of professional sniffer dogs and putting up more than 300 posters and leaflets.
Spillo ran off into a field with their two other dogs while the family, from Wandsworth, south west London, visited a holiday cottage near Midhurst, West Sussex.
The Bierer-Nielsens (left to right: Jacob, Laura, Sharon and Henrick) were forced to hire a pet detective in a bid to find their missing dog Spillo who disappeared while on a walk in Midhurst, West Sussex
In an attempt to find the 15-year-old mongrel they have used thermal camera equipment, three sets of professional sniffer dogs and put up more than 300 posters and leaflets
The other two dogs returned without him and he had vanished within minutes.
Laura, 23, said her family had to extend their one-week break to a month and have no intention of leaving until their much-loved pet is found.
Colin Butcher, a former Surrey Police detective who also served in the Royal Navy, is the pet detective helping the Bierer-Nielsens hunt for Spillo.
He is conducting an investigation by speaking to witnesses of possible sightings, talking to people in the community and working out a timeline of when the pet disappeared, including using CCTV in the area.
Laura said she rented a thermal imaging camera and learnt how to use it as part of the search.
Laura, 23, said her family extended their week-long staycation in West Sussex to a month and do not plan to leave until they find their much-loved dog
The family hired Colin Butcher, a former Surrey Police detective who also served in the Royal Navy, as a pet detective in their hunt for Spillo
The family also got help from search teams from across the district, whilst also receiving messages of support and concern from as far afield as the USA, Bali, Malaysia and Australia.
Desperate to find their adored pooch, they also used Facebook ads to promote their social media appeal.
Due to Spillo’s age, the family fear he may have been stolen as he is unlikely to have run very far.
Laura, who goes to the London School of Economics, said she has also put her Masters dissertation on hold to help with the search which began on July 28.
She said: ‘He went missing from the end of the driveway. He had gone to the field with our two other dogs [who both returned] but he disappeared within four minutes.
‘I’m not exaggerating when I say he has gone off the face of the earth.
‘The notion of him walking too far for us to find him is nigh on impossible, considering his age and he’s got very bad arthritis. He struggles to walk long distances.
‘Him being picked up on the end of the driveway is our number one possibility. We have a pet detective who is going down every avenue.’
Pet detective Colin Butcher has been speaking to witnesses of possible sightings, talking to people in the community and working out a timeline of when the pet disappeared
Due to Spillo’s age, the family fear he may have been stolen as he is unlikely to have run very far
Laura, who goes to the London School of Economics, said she has also put her Masters dissertation on hold to help with the search which began on July 28
The family is now staying in rooms at the back of a pub and has cancelled all their future holidays for the year.
‘It’s demoralising day in, day out [but] we are not leaving until we find out what’s happened to him. A dog doesn’t disappear off the face of the earth.’
Described as the ‘king of Wandsworth Common’, Spillo was first seen by the Bierer-Nielsen family as an eight-week-old puppy dumped in an oil drum in Italy.
It took nearly 10 years for the then-owners to be persuaded that Spillo would be better off in London.
Laura said: ‘He is just the most delightful, sweetest dog. Everyone who knows us knows our lives revolve around him.
‘We had our whole house and garden re-designed to suit his needs.
The family even turned to Facebook ads as a way of promoting their appeal to find Spillo
They are now staying in rooms at the back of a pub and have cancelled all their future holidays for the year
‘He’s a strange looking dog. He’s old and in pain. Why anybody would want him other than us, who adore him, I don’t know. Our other dogs really miss him.
‘It’s really heartbreaking. It’s ripped my mum and dad’s heart apart and they really aren’t coping.’
Laura thanked the ‘complete strangers’ who have gone to extraordinary lengths to assist the search for Spillo.
She added: ‘Local people have been extraordinarily helpful with volunteers coming and searching on foot and on horseback. People have been amazingly supportive.
‘Some have taken the time off work just to help. Even our vet has come out to help and stayed with us. Spillo has a big impact on people.
‘It’s really lovely, particularly as we’re not local. We don’t know anyone down here. We have had the loveliest messages through from people we’ve never met.
‘People have been really kind. It has been expensive but when you have lost a member of your family you can’t put a value on that.
‘Fortunately we are able to do that and we will pull out all the stops.