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Family’s heartbreak as 19 day search for missing support dog ends in tragedy

A family has been left heartbroken after their 19 day search for their missing autism support dog ended in tragedy.

The Bonnes family, from Randalstown, Northern Ireland, started their search for their golden labradoodle, Rua, on July 14 after she disappeared when owner Justin was mowing the lawn.

Despite their extensive searches, Rua was sadly nowhere to be seen, and her remains were found 19-days later.

In her short time with the family, Rua had become a lifeline for them, quickly creating new possibilities for Sean Og Bonnes, 14, who has autism, becoming his support dog and gentle backup in times of anxiety.

The family searched across their neighbourhood and asked people to check their sheds and barns in case their dog was seeking safety inside.

Others from the community and volunteers from Lost Paws NI, a charity that works specifically to help reunite lost and found pets throughout Northern Ireland, joined in with their search – but they still couldn’t find her.

However, on August 1, the remains of the 18-month-old dog were finally found bringing the huge search operation to an end.

It is believed she had died shortly after she had gone missing, reports BelfastLive.

Owner and mum-of-four Ciarrai Bonnes, said now the family will have to learn how to live without their cherished pet.

She said: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we inform you all that our beautiful Rua will not be returning home to us and has instead crossed rainbow bridge.

“It is not the news that we had all hoped for and we are completely devastated by the loss of our girl.

“We cannot thank enough, everyone of you who has been on this agonising journey with us this last 19 days, we especially want to thank Lost Paws NI for their incredible support, expertise and kindness that they have shown to us from the first point of contact.

“To Lagan Search and Rescue who so willingly gave up their precious time and resources to search the river for Rua.

“To Search and Recuse NI who searched fields upon fields, ditches upon ditches. To Devine Design who printed huge amounts of posters and to all the kind volunteers who distributed them far and wide.

“We want to thank especially the public who were out searching day and night for Rua and to all who provided use of drones, for sharing social media posts and sending messages of support, you don’t know how much this meant to us.

“Rua was a massive part of our family and therefore her loss is enormously painful for us.

“We will now, somehow, learn to live without Rua, but we will remember the love and friendship she contributed to our family.

“As our hearts mend in time, her beautiful soul will live on in our home through the wonderful memories of love and happiness she instilled in our hearts.”

Thousands of people responded to the local article about Rua, urging the public to look out for her and make her too hot to handle in the event she had been lifted from her home.

But her family were also met with a number of cruel, crank and fake messages that left them distraught as they tried to find their pet.

Ciarrai said: “One thing we have learned from this horrific journey is that by far, the good in people outweighs the bad.

“The kindness in our community and farther afield has been incredible and lastly, may God forgive the rest of you.”