A DISTRAUGHT pet owner has offered a reward for information leading to the return of his beloved dog.
Digger the Patterdale Terrier has not been seen since last Monday, when he went missing down a rabbit hole at Crimdon Dene.
Her owner, Joe Hepworth, 63, is not sure whether the 18-month-old pooch is still underground or made her way out.
He says the breed is expensive and he hopes if Digger has made her way out of the hole, which leads to a maze of rabbit warrens, whoever has got her will return her.
Ex-miner Joe, from Cotsford Lane, in Horden, said he took Digger for a walk near the stables at Crimdon on Monday, February 13, around 2.30pm, and the dog ran away after he let her off her lead.
Joe, whose grandsons Alfie Robinson, five, and Callum Robinson, seven, are devastated that Digger is missing, added; “I blocked the holes up slightly with sticks and stones to see if there was any sign of her getting out.
“But when I went back the next morning and opened it up and shouted her she wasn’t there.
“She’s a working dog, you can’t keep them on the lead all the time.
“I let her off the lead and she ran down the hole.
“She must have got a whiff of a rabbit, I don’t know whether she got out or is still down there.
“The kids are devastated.”
Joe contacted the fire brigade on Wednesday to see if they could help.
A crew from Peterlee Fire Station attended the scene and used thermal imaging cameras, but to no avail, as reported by the Mail last week.
Joe contacted the RSPCA to see if they could help, but sadly they could not.
He said Digger had gone missing before and she had been involved in a road accident, leading to her ending up at a vet’s in Hartlepool.
“She’s a lovely little dog,” he added.
“She dug her way out of Cotsford Park dene before and made her way to my daughter’s.”
Digger is a black, long-haired variety with a short tail.
Anyone who knows Digger’s whereabouts can call Joe on (0191) 5869417 or 07515487035.