"We feel so desperate. It's like a member of the family has been taken from us, and we are powerless to do anything about it."
Those were the heartfelt words of Charleville mum Jenny Foley following the theft of the family dog, Ginger, which in the short space of time they have had the King Charles Spaniel had formed an inseparable bond with her four-year-old autistic son, Ashton.
Jenny explained that Ginger went missing from the backyard of her home on May 2 and, since then, she and her family and friends have undertaken an exhaustive countrywide search trying to trace the eight-month-old pup.
"We know Ginger was stolen. We have a six-foot fence around the garden and a part of that was deliberately wrenched apart to allow access to the garden," said Jenny.
"It's horrible to think that whoever did this must have been watching the house beforehand."
She said that Ashton has been inconsolable since Ginger went missing, describing whoever took the dog as "just the lowest of low human beings".
"As anyone who has lived with autism knows it is difficult for those with the condition to form bonds. However, Ashton and Ginger hit it off straight way, it was amazing how quickly they bonded. When Ashton would get upset or agitated he would cuddle up to Ginger and calm down straight away," said Jenny.
"The last thing he would do at night would be tuck Ginger in before going to bed himself. Now his routine, which is vital to Ashton, has been totally turned on its head and it's really upsetting for me to watch him getting so distressed and unable to sleep. We have said that Ginger is on a sleep-over at my brothers, but that excuse is beginning to wear a bit thin now."
Jenny said that she fears Ginger, a pure bred, may have been stolen for breeding purposes, and with that in mind she has launched a Facebook campaign and contacted canine charities, authorities and even ports to see if Ginger can be tracked down and reunited with her disconsolate son.
"At this stage we are desperate. It's like a member of the family has been taken from us, and we are powerless to do anything about it. It breaks my heart to see Ashton like this. How do you explain to a four-year-old that their best friend has been taken by heartless thieves who gave no thought to the impact this would have on Ashton's life?" said an emotional Jenny.
"I can only hope that someone, somewhere knows where Ginger is and gets in contact with us. I can assure anyone who does, there will be no repercussions for them. All we want is Ginger back home safe and sound."
Anyone who can help Jenny in her quest to reunite Aston and Ginger can contact her through her own Facebook page or the One Boy and His Dog Facebook page.