A paramedic is asking the public for help in tracking down his “special dog” after it ran away during a visit to a vets in Leicester.
Popeye has been an important member of the Lewin family, in Braunstone Town, since he was taken in from a rescue centre about eight years ago.
The timid terrier has now been missing for almost two weeks – and his owner, Pete Lewin, is desperate to know that he is safe and well, and for the pair to be reunited.
Missing posters have gone up across the Braunstone, New Parks and Glenfield areas, with flyers also posted through letterboxes, but the wait goes on.
Pete, 62, said concern for Popeye’s safety welfare is growing.
“It’s been almost two weeks now since he’s been missing,” he said. “We don’t know if he’s hiding out somewhere and keeping his head down or whether someone has taken him in and doesn’t realise he already has a home.”
Popeye ran away during a visit to The Park Veterinary Group, in Dominion Road, Glenfield on Monday, July 6.
“He’d been struggling to walk and we suspected that he may have a ligament problem so we decided we’d better have him checked out,” said Pete.
“It turned out it was an abscess and he was treated by the vet.
“The problem arose when one of the nurses was returning him to me.
“I don’t blame the vets at all but due to the new Covid-19 measures owners now have to wait outside in the car park.
“I was sitting in my car and as the nurse brought him out he wriggled out of his collar and ran away.”
He added: “He ran around the back of the building and that’s the last time I saw him.
“I followed but he was nowhere to be seen. He was gone.
“Someone later told me they’d seen a small dog fitting his description running up Dominion Road.”
While Pete’s day job is working as a paramedic for East Midlands Ambulance Service, in his spare time he runs Pete Lewin’s Newfoundlands, a not-for profit company, which has received national and international acclaim.
It provides therapy swims at Stanton Lakes, Stoney Stanton, for armed forces veterans and other people suffering with the effects of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), as well as staging water rescue demonstrations and educational visits to schools and community groups.
“I have four Newfoundlands and another four dogs apart from Popeye,” he said. “Although he isn’t technically a therapy dog, he is for me.
“He’s quite a special dog. Whenever I get home, there he is. He’s a constant companion with such a good nature and is always sitting on my shoulders when I’m in my arm chair or in the footwell of my car when I’m driving.
“Of course, I love all of my dogs but there is something special about him. He’s like my little mate.
“He’s a proper family dog and needs to be back with his family.”
Pete has been wandering the New Parks, Braunstone and Glenfield areas since Popeye’s disappearance with help from an army of volunteers, friends and family.
They are also being assisted by Harvey’s Army, a national charity dedicated to finding missing pets.
Family friend Tracie Baxter said: “Although small, Popeye is a big part of the family. he must be somewhere. Maybe he is injured, or scared, or been found by someone who doesn’t realise how loved he is.”
She added: “Pete spends his life helping others and we are now pleading with people to help him to get Popeye home to his human and canine family.”
Popeye, who is a terrier cross, is thought to be about nine-years-old and has a mostly black coat with silver specs and a grey nose. He is about a foot tall and has tanned fur on his legs. Although he is micro-chipped, without his collar he has no obvious identification on him.
“We called him Popeye because he has slightly bent legs and walks a bit like the famous cartoon character,” said Pete.
Despite several sightings, however, none has proved fruitful, so far.
Pete said: “We’ve had a few sightings in New Parks but the last report, a day or so ago, was from Glenfield.
“My big fear is that he could be mistreated, or is hungry, lonely and scared.”
Dawn Goulden, of Harvey’s Army, said: “Because Popeye is so timid, we advise people not to chase, shout or grab him.
“Dogs tend to revert to survival mode and timid animals especially will run away – even from their owners.”
Pete added: “If he’s still at large, I imagine he’s getting more and more tired so will, at some point, just give himself up, so to speak.
“Hopefully, with the number of recent sightings we may be able to find him soon and get him home where he belongs.
“I’d appreciate any help we can get and would urge people to keep their eyes peeled for him.
“Fingers crossed, someone will come forward.”
Anyone who thinks they have seen Popeye or knows of his whereabouts is urged to contact Pete on 07878 521108 or Harvey’s Army on 07833 727975.