A toddler whose hunt to find his stolen dog attracted a £10,000 reward from X Factor supremo Simon Cowell is over the moon his ‘best friend’ has returned.
Toddler Edward Latter, three, thought border terrier Morse was gone for good after cruel thieves stole him when he escaped from his family home.
The 10-month-old mutt had been missing since December and the devastated boy even wrote a heartbreaking letter to Santa and posted it to Lapland asking for his pal back for Christmas.
But yesterday the delighted boy discovered his beloved hound had been found and said: ‘I can’t believe it, I have my best friend back. It’s too late for Christmas but this is the best present ever.’
The £10,000 reward was offered by millionaire Cowell after he read about the horrific theft.
A source close to Cowell said: ‘It’s heartbreaking to see a little boy’s Christmas ruined. Dogs are so important to so many of us. We just hope it helps lead to the safe return of Morse.’
It is thought the thieves picked up the hound to use as a stud but Morse seems to have escaped his captors.
The toddler wrote a heartbreaking letter to Santa saying: ‘Dear Father Christmas, I just want one present for Christmas this year, my dog Morse back. I’ve been a very good boy all year. Thank you, Edward aged two and three quarters.’
His parents, Amanda Hopkins and Richard Latter, had given up hope of ever seeing their pet again until they got a call on Friday night.
A couple 20 miles away from their home in Marden, Kent, had found a muddy dog walking through their street and thought it could be missing Morse.
They brought the bedraggled hound in, washed him, and then called Mr. Latter who was unsure until he was sent a photo and then drove the family to the village of Meopham.
The theatre carpenter, 40, said: ‘I and Amanda were still quite skeptical, but Edward saw him and recognized him straight away. He just said, “Is that Morse, is Morse coming home with us”.
‘He was absolutely over the moon. We were still unsure if it was him though – as he wasn’t responding to his name or coming to us.
‘We spent about an hour and a half over there and we still were not sure, so we took him home to get his chip scanned. It was only when we took him to the vets on Saturday morning and got his chip scanned that we found out for sure.
‘We instantly broke down in tears, I was delirious for a few seconds, it was absolutely wonderful, we were just hugging each other, hugging Edward and hugging the dog.’
A witness spotted two men bundling Morse into the back of a van five minutes after he darted out of the family home and Mr. Latter thinks he was sold as a stud.
The family who found missing pooch Morse say they haven’t yet heard from Simon Cowell about the £10,000 reward but are ‘elated’ to get him home.
Mum-of-two Michelle Holt, 41, found the scruffy nine-month-old border terrier, who had been missing since December, wandering at the front of her house.
She said: ‘I was so pleased. We didn’t know anything about any of the media attention – I was just so pleased they have got their little dog back, because having a dog ourselves for years, we know if we lost him we would be heartbroken.
‘They were really lovely people, genuine people, and it felt really good to be able to get him back home.’
She said she was unsure whether it was the right dog, and her husband Spencer thought it was too light, but they decided to phone the family and find out.
She added: ‘The dog was wandering around so I helped get him out of the road because I thought he was going to get run over. He must have been out all night – he was soaking wet, he stank and he was covered in mud.
‘He was shaking the poor little thing, so I bathed him and checked he was okay and was not injured. We got him warm and fed him and gave him a cuddle.’
In a bid to track down Morse thousands of dog lovers took to the internet to search for him and Mr. Latter has thanked them all.
‘We are so grateful and couldn’t have done it without you,’ he said.
‘It was lovely knowing that so many of you were willing to help and contact us. I can’t thank everyone enough, it has really opened our eyes to the world of lost and stolen dogs.’
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