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'No one deserves to die in a field on their own. How could it happen?'

On a mild September morning in 2013, as Dubliners went about their day in t-shirts and shorts, Orla Lynch and her family were following up on the latest sighting of her mother.

Peggy Mangan, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease five years earlier, had vanished from her suburban home with Casper, her loyal King Charles Cavalier spaniel.

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Peggy Mangan's daughters Louise Hollywood and Orla Lynch with Max at the handing over of search and rescue dog Max by the Peggy Mangan foundation to Dublin Civil Defence. Picture:Arthur Carron

Peggy Mangan's daughters Louise Hollywood and Orla Lynch with Max at the handing over of search and rescue dog Max by the Peggy Mangan foundation to Dublin Civil Defence. Picture:Arthur Carron

The search for Peggy last year

The search for Peggy last year

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Peggy Mangan's daughters Louise Hollywood and Orla Lynch with Max at the handing over of search and rescue dog Max by the Peggy Mangan foundation to Dublin Civil Defence. Picture:Arthur Carron

"I remember out thinking 'I bet she's just sitting on a bench somewhere with Casper, sunning herself'," Orla says.

Peggy used to spend her days walking Casper up and down Mount Tallant Avenue, the Terenure road she lived on for 30 years, stopping to chat to neighbours along the way. But on September 24, 2013, Peggy left the house she shared with husband and carer Thomas and kept on walking. She never came home.

While Ireland had been enjoying somewhat of an Indian summer that September, the nights were autumnal and cold. And when Peggy reached a grassy wasteland near the Ikea store in Ballymun, some 12k away from Terenure, she succumbed to the cold. The 67-year-old was found four days later, Casper standing guard over her body. The 10-year-old dog died less than two hours later, from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and dehydration.

At noon yesterday, more than 250 people remembered Peggy by following the route she and Casper took almost a year ago. The charity walk may be something for Orla, her sister Louise Hollywood, their father Thomas and brother Jon to focus on as they continue to grieve Peggy's loss. But the first anniversary of her disappearance looms large in their minds.

"Next Wednesday is the 24th and I can't believe it's been nearly a year," Orla says. "There are days I still get agitated over the situation. We don't know how we'll deal with the day."

Much of the family's frustration lies with how under resourced gardaí handled their search for Peggy.

D.I.D. Electrical in Finglas, run by Orla's husband Darragh, became the base for the hundreds of volunteers who responded to the family's social media campaign to find Peggy.

The team set up a mobile alert system for volunteers, contacted the media, got CCTV operators to check times and locations of the public's sightings, and asked retailers and transport operators to pass around leaflets with Peggy's description.

Orla and Louise Hollywood, Peggy's other daughter, believe their mother might still be alive today if a garda alert had been issued immediately and resources such as the Civil Defence and Irish Search Dogs were deployed sooner.

"We assumed that when someone went missing there was a proper protocol in place," Louise says. "But without the people who came out day and night to search for my mother, we'd still be looking.

''A year later, nothing has really changed. The sad thing is that it cost my mam her life."

She would like the Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) alert, an agreement between An Garda Síochána, the media and information broadcasters to alert the public to a child abduction, to be widened to include "high risk" missing people, including the elderly and those suffering from a serious illness.

Louise says the Civil Defence were not called in by gardai for four days and that none of the dogs brought in to search for Peggy were trained specifically to track missing people. Her mother was last seen on CCTV passing Charlestown shopping centre in Finglas.

"We were only a five-minute drive away from there at one stage," Louise says. "Had there been a search dog available, we would have found her.

"The guards were out in a patrol car looking for her, but they didn't have a photo, just a description of her and that she had a Cavalier King Charles.

''A photo should have been circulated to all the Dublin stations.

"At one stage, my sister was in a shop viewing CCTV footage and as she was coming out, a guard was going in to view it. The gardaí were on the back foot all the time."

The Mangan family set up a foundation last year to improve awareness of missing person protocols and services for people living with Alzheimer's. Some 7,753 people were reported missing last year, almost twice as many as a decade earlier. Seventeen people who went missing in 2013 were not found by the end of the year.

Orla and Louise met Enda Kenny and former Justice Minister Alan Shatter in February to ask for better missing person procedures be set up at garda stations and for gardai to be equipped with search and rescue dogs.

"No one deserves to die in a field on their own while family members are begging for extra resources to come out," Louise says.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice last week said: "The former minister did raise these issues with the Garda authorities, with particular reference to the lessons to be learned from this tragic case, in the context of a planned review of the Garda Missing Persons protocols.

This included the question of early identification of high-risk missing persons and the need to publicise such cases as quickly and as widely as possible.

The department is liaising with the Garda authorities regarding their plans in this regard."

The Peggy Mangan Foundation earlier this year donated a search and rescue dog called Max to the Dublin Civil Defence.

Max was drafted in last month to assist volunteers searching for Thomas Kennedy, the 81-year-old who has not been seen since he put the bins outside his home at Virginia Park in Finglas on July 29.

The family has also set about raising €50,000 for a mobile outreach unit, or "dementia bus".

It will travel the country and provide information and support services to people with Alzheimer's and dementia.

"We knew my mam had Alzheimer's, but we never thought her end would come the way it did," Louise says. "She was only 67 and she still knew who we were."

The Peggy Ball, a black-tie charity ball, will be held on ­October 18 at the Aviva Stadium. For details, see www.peggymangan.ie

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