A Jedburgh family are hitting the road as they continue their desperate bid to get back two pet dogs they believe have been stolen.
Gamekeeper Edward Bell and wife Georgie last saw their border terrier bitches Ruby and Beetle on the Lothian Estate in Jedburgh on the afternoon of Friday, December 28.
Since the dogs’ disappearance two months ago, the couple have made countless appeals for information and even raised £5,000 through a crowdfunding page to offer as a reward for their return.
Police inquiries into the whereabouts of the dogs have drawn a blank so far.
Georgie, 45, accepts that a time may come when they and their children – Tom, 15; Felicity, 14; and Frances, 12 – will have to acknowledge they’ve done all they can to try to get their pets back but to no avail.
However, for now, she is still hoping for a happy ending and is securing support from across the country for her efforts to be reunited with Ruby and Beetle.
To raise awareness of their plight, the family have had a three-metre-wide banner made by Fantasy Prints in Berwick.
The plan is to take the banner, featuring a photo of the pooches and contact numbers for anyone with information to ring, to various locations and sporting fixtures in the hope of securing the breakthrough they yearn for.
When not on the move, it is on display alongside the A68 Edinburgh-Darlington road at Cleekimin, north of Jedburgh.
Georgie said: “It’s a big banner so it should get noticed.
“We’re going to hang it on different locations where it will be noticed, such as roads.
“It’s a long shot but if there’s any particular rugby match or anything like that we can get it hung up.
“It’s become completely apparent in our search how rife this dog-stealing is. It’s on the rise, and nothing is being done. If we just got one lead, just something that we can take forward. Who has got them? Someone must know something.
“A lot of people are contacting other people on behalf of me because I can’t physically do everything.
“We have been getting a lot of help and getting photographs up and down the country offering their support.
“At some point, we will not be able to take this any further, but at the minute there are still things happening so we will keep going with it.
“The crowdfunding page got to the £5,000 target. We’ll keep that for 12 months and then if the reward is not claimed, the money will be distributed to various charities that have supported us along the way.
“We’re still hopeful of a happy ending.”
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont has offered his support to the family and visited them at their home at Woodside Gamekeeper’s House to have his photo taken with the banner.
“This is a desperately sad story,” he said.
“Losing a loved pet is clearly an incredibly difficult time for any family, but the Bells are doing themselves proud by how hard they are working to get their dogs back.
“The new banner looks great and it is in an ideal location.”
“They need help spreading the word from everyone in the Borders, particularly on social media.
“I am concerned that this highlights an even wider problem with people and vans coming up to rural areas like the Borders to steal whatever they can find.
“It’s an issue I know the local police are concerned about, and it clearly isn’t just about taking farm equipment.
“If anyone knows anything about these dogs, I’d encourage them to get in touch with Georgie and Ed or to simply call Police Scotland.”
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton has also taken up the family’s cause.
“Losing a dog causes anguish and upset in any family, and when contacted by the Bells, I wanted to offer help and assistance,” she said.
“They have taken great strides to ensure they get their terriers back by raising a large reward, and I hope that greater publicity will bring new information to light of their possible whereabouts.”
“If anyone knows of anything regarding the stolen dogs, please get in contact with Police Scotland on 101.”
Georgie added: “We are extremely grateful for Rachael’s support.
“Ruby and Beetle were the very heart of our home. Our children have been heartbroken over the loss of our much-adored family pets.
“We have done so much work already to try to find these two little dogs.
“We have a Facebook group set up, with over 5,000 members. This group has given us so much support and help. They are all behind us, trying every way possible to give us suggestions and ideas for more media coverage.
“We need to reach out to the people who cruelly stole our beloved pets to make them aware of the reward money that is waiting for their safe return.
“Dog theft is on the rise. It is becoming very apparent as we conduct our search how rife this crime has become.”
Anyone able to help Edward and Georgie can contact them on 07885 712165 or 07989 513946.