A FAMILY cancelled their dream holiday to Florida after their beloved dog went missing.

Amy Wright, from Sandymoor, was about to fly to America with relatives and friends to celebrate her parents’ Pamela and Sommerville's 30th wedding anniversary and three 21st birthdays of her brother Callum, her brother’s girlfriend Ellyse and cousin Mhairi when they heard that their pet, Dougal, had escaped.

The three-year-old Spanish Water Dog ran off while being exercised by staff from Four Paws Kennels in Cuddington.

Dougal bolted on his morning walk and pulled the lead from the handler’s grasp. He fled to Cuddington train station where he was last seen.

Amy and her family launched a frantic search and spent eight agonising days and nights combing streets, fields and footpaths.

They put up posters, created a Facebook page and lit sausage bonfires to try and find him.

Thousands of wellwishers on social media - as far as New Zealand - offered support.

Sadly, it emerged that Dougal had been hit by a train between Cuddington and Northwich on the day he disappeared.

Fitness instructor Amy, 24, from Runcorn, said: “We know his escape was a genuine accident. We saw on CCTV that he bolted from kennels.

“But we are absolutely appalled by the rail operators. There was a reported incident involving a dog being hit on the line about 3pm on August 29, the day Dougal escaped. However neither the kennels nor ourselves were alerted despite Dougal being logged with Network Rail.”

Amy is working with the charity Harvey’s Army, set up after a poodle called Harvey was killed by a car, to ensure owners of microchipped animals hit by trains, like those struck by vehicles, must be informed.

“The suffering caused to our family is immeasurable,” said Amy. “Dougal wasn’t just a pet, he was a therapy dog. If you felt upset he’d know and put his paw on your leg. He was a really unique dog.

“He lit up the room and was loved by anyone he met.

“The community has been amazing. We’d like to thank everyone who helped.

“We abandoned our holiday to search for Dougal. We’d rather have our dog back than any holiday.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We appreciate the distress that can be caused when a family pet is lost on the railway and we try and retrieve animals as soon as possible.

“In these situations, access to the track by specialists is carefully managed so it takes place at the earliest possible time in a safe way which does not put anyone at risk.”