Lassie, come home.
After his beloved beagle mix, Edna, disappeared on Halloween night, Bill Whiting did what any dog owner might: He offered a reward in posted fliers around the neighborhood and anxiously waited for a call, MyFoxPhilly.com reports.
When the phone rang, however, the news was not what he was expecting.
"He said, ‘Mister, I got your dog. You don't believe it? You want me to hurt it so you can hear?’ I pleaded with them not to hurt the dog," Whiting said of the caller, one of several kids who he recalled has a "young voice" and apparently is holding for ransom Edna, his canine companion of more than 12 years.
The distressed dog owner said the boy threatened to kill Edna if he does not hand over a large sum of money; he already had offered $500 for the canine's safe return.
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Edna is a lovable, medium-sized dog with pointy ears, said Whiting, who thinks she may have slipped out of the house as he opened and closed the door to hand out Halloween candy.
"Kids were ringing the doorbell continuously and the door was open more than it was closed. At some point I called for Edna and I thought she was under the sofa or something … but there was no Edna," Whiting said.
Police have no leads so far and the call was traced to a disposable phone; the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is posting a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone responsible for taking and possibly harming the dog.
"I would like my dog to come back," Whiting said. "If my dog comes back this becomes my Christmas miracle."