A dog owner who offered a €2,000 reward to find her missing pooch has been left heartbroken as she believes the pet was shot dead by a farmer.
Mariana Caran Rossi, 28, launched a campaign in March to find her beloved Collie after the three-year-old went missing last December in Co Westmeath.
The Brazilian, who came to Ireland in 2020 to study business at Trinity College in Dublin, placed posters of Apollo around Westmeath and Dublin.
But she has now revealed her “sad news” and thanked everyone for trying to help her.
She claimed: “After a lead and some investigation, we are almost sure Apollo was shot by a farmer just in the first days [after] he went missing.
“Thanks for everything you did for me and my family. Apollo will be always in my heart.
“I know also the readers were wishing for Apollo to come home.”
When broken-hearted Mariana launched her campaign, she revealed that Apollo was “like a son to me”.
She said: “I love this dog. I brought him with me from Brazil and he is a member of my family.
“He is more than just a dog or a pet, he is like my son. I want him back.”
She added: “I won’t stop until I find my dog or what happened to him.”
Apollo, who was a ginger and white Australian red Border Collie, disappeared from a kennel in Co Westmeath while Mariana was on holiday.
It was feared that the dog, who was neutered and microchipped, was snatched by a gang from England.
Cases of so-called cruel dognappings soared by 63% in 2020 and the pet theft epidemic has continued, despite a Garda crackdown.
Latest Garda figures show that up to 300 top breeds are stolen in Ireland each year and sold for values of between €2,000 and €3,000 on the black market.
The Irish Mirror reported yesterday that the Government is to usher in specific new laws to tackle dog-snatchers by updating the 2021 Criminal Justice Act, which carries a maximum 10-year jail term for pet thefts.
Junior Justice Minister James Browne vowed: “I am committed to examining the options to address the issue.”
Get breaking news to your inbox by signing up to our newsletter