THE APPARENT theft of a young Border Collie bitch ended in tragedy after her body was found on a road some five miles from her owners house.
Fire Station Manager Geoff Parkinson and his family had eagerly awaited the arrival of their new pup, Jess, from Janet Oliver of the Corie Collies, and in the few months she had lived with her new family she had become, in Geoffs words. the centre of our universe. In addition to his duties at the Fire Stations in East Sussex, Geoff is also Training Officer for an overseas disaster response team RAPID UK - Rescue and Preparedness in Disasters - and Jess - beautiful, clever and so quick to learn - quickly fulfilled his hope that she could become his canine search partner. Geoff explained: We began training almost immediately, search skills need to be second nature from as early an age as possible. Jess was exemplary. She was trained to be steady around all people, to show confidence and be ever welcoming to visitors and strangers alike. For protection she was microchipped and had a tattooed number in her ear.
On the morning of Thursday 17 April 2003, between 1000hrs and 1230hrs someone came to the Parkinsons house and carefully removed the catflap from the back door, leaving a hole big enough for Jess to get through. When Geoff arrived home at around 1245hrs Jess was nowhere to be seen and the catflap parts were strewn around the floor.
Phone calls to the Police and local vets were immediately made and before long a woman rang saying she'd seen Jess on the road around five miles away. Sadly, it turned out Jess had been hit by a car and killed.
It is thought she was snatched with a view to selling her for breeding but that it was realised this was impossible due to her tattoo; police also suspect that she was thrown from the vehicle and consequently struck.
Jesss family are heartbroken; in Geoff Parkinsons words: I shall miss her terribly, Jess has been a wonderful companion and was well on the way to becoming a wonderful search dog.
So, not only have I lost a friend, the world has lost an unsung hero of the future.