A distraught bird-lover is appealing for the return of his most unusual pet - a tame barn owl - after she disappeared from her coop.
Paul Dewhurst, 39, from Marton, hand-reared his beloved pet owl Snoop from a featherless chick.
The one-year-old bird disappeared from her coop at Mr Dewhurst’s Newhouse Road home on January 27.
Mr Dewhurst said: “My girlfriend came in at around 10.30am and said she didn’t think Snoop was in her cage. I told her to wave the food in front of her box and she would jump right out - but she didn’t. I went into an absolute panic.
“The coop was locked and there was no way she could have got out on her own. Someone must have opened the door and either taken her or let her out and then shut it again. Her food from the night before hadn’t been touched.”
Mr Dewhurst, who suffers from depression, described the loss of his pet as ‘devastating’, adding that the constant worry has caused him to lose sleep.
He said: “I did everything for that bird. I feel like I’ve lost someone really close. I can’t even eat.
“The hardest thing is not knowing what’s happened to her. I don’t know whether she’s been let out or whether she’s being kept in a cage somewhere. It’s killing me.
“There have been a few sightings near Rossall School. One person said a barn owl followed them while they were out on their bike, and I used to take Snoop on bike rides with me. Another person said they saw a barn owl getting heckled by seagulls. But we don’t know if it’s actually her or not.”
The father-of-one added that Snoop, who is friendly and used to children, is not afraid to approach strangers when hungry.
She is described as a medium-sized barn owl with black spots on the outside and inside of her wings. She was wearing a burgundy ring on her foot.
Mr Dewhurst said: “If she’s in the wild I don’t know what will happen to her. She hates the wind and with all the bad weather we’ve had she’ll just be hiding - but if she’s hiding she’ll be getting weaker and weaker, and she has to eat eventually. She can’t resist frozen chips. They’re her favourite treat.
“I’m just hoping and praying someone will phone me and say they’ve got her safe at their house and I can go and get her.”
Have you seen Snoop the owl? Call Paul Dewhurst on 07921552064.