A BELOVED pet dog has been reunited with its owner some 18 months after suddenly vanishing.
Maggie Burgess had all but given up on ever finding her West Highland Terrier Annie after she went missing in July 2013.
So she was both shocked and elated when she got a call out of the blue to say Annie, identified by her implanted microchip, had been handed into a vet’s around 70 miles away from her Shopwhyke home, near Chichester.
Annie was almost certainly stolen and now Maggie wants to warn others about the dangers of dog-snatchers and the importance of getting your pets chipped.
“I was driving up to London when suddenly I got a call from the Pines Vets in Maidenhead asking if I owned a dog called Annie,” Maggie said.
“I told them she went missing 18 months ago, and to my total disbelief they said a couple had found a filthy little dog and handed it into them.
“I was absolutely over the moon, I honestly thought I would never see her again.”
Maggie, who is married to Patrick Burgess, the High Sheriff of West Sussex for 2014, featured in our papers back in August desperately appealing for help in finding Annie. So she was delighted to get the unexpected news well over a year later.
“The vets told me that although she was OK I might be a little shocked by her appearance because she wasn’t in great shape and had had a rough time,” she said.
Maggie travelled up to the vets in Maidenhead with her friend Val Leggate and to her delight, little Annie immediately recognised her and excitedly greeted her.
She has lost a lot of weight having seemingly had to fend for herself for some time, and her fur was so matted the vets had to cut most of it off, revealing some badly irritated patches of skin.
But apart from being badly shaken up by her ordeal, little Annie is expected to make a full recovery and is now safely back at home and reunited with black Labrador Effy as well as new addition Little Mo, another Westie.
Annie vanished from the garden of her home one night at the end of July and despite the family knocking on doors, putting up signs and appealing for help through our newspapers it appeared she had gone for good.
“The police told us she was most likely stolen and that dog-snatching is now big business,” Maggie said.
“They said dogs are often taken for breeding, and because Annie had been spayed it’s possible they didn’t want her and let her go.
“It’s damn close to a miracle that she’s back home but the truth is if she hadn’t been chipped, the vets would never have known she belong to me and I wouldn’t have got her back.”
Maggie has thanked the many people who have sent her well-wishing messages since Annie’s safe return, adding: “I just wish she could talk to tell us where she’s been, I’m sure it’s an amazing story.”