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Burnaby mom who lost son to poisoned drug supply pleading for return of his missing dog

Lanky husky-shepherd cross vanished from area of Douglas Road and Norfolk Street on July 4
When Burnaby resident Dolores Dignan lost her son to B.C.’s poisoned drug supply in March, his dog Chief was there to comfort her – but now he’s gone, too, and she’s desperate to find him.

The husky-shepherd cross vanished after being let out into Dignan’s backyard in the area of Douglas Road and Norfolk Street on the morning of July 4.

“If I knew something had happened to him, and I knew he wasn’t alive, then I could get over it, I think, but not knowing, is he hungry? Is he hot? Does he have water to drink? It’s like a child,” Dignan told the NOW.

To understand what Chief means to Dignan, you have to know something about their history.

Her 54-year-old son, Daryl McLean had adopted the lanky, athletic canine about four years ago, and the two were inseparable.

“He was by Daryl’s side every minute of every day,” Dignan said. “Daryl used to always put his arm around Chief and say, ‘We’re a couple.’”

‘I knew he was gone’

MacLean had moved into the basement suite of Dignan’s Burnaby home earlier this year while he renovated a place in East Vancouver.

On the days Chief stayed with Dignan, he would wait by the basement door for her son to come home.

One night in March, before McLean went down to his basement suite for the night, he’d asked his mom to make waffles for breakfast because he had some fruit he wanted to use before it went bad.

The next morning, when she went to tell her son breakfast was ready, McLean and Chief were gone.

She began to worry when she didn’t hear from them all that day and the next.

Dignan said her son had struggled with an addiction to crack cocaine on and off for 30 years, and he would sometimes disappear for short periods and then return, vowing never to use the drug again.

Usually, he’d call to say when he was coming home – this time he didn’t.

She drove to the East Vancouver place he had been renovating and spotted his Jeep parked in the back, but there was no answer when she rang the doorbell and banged on the windows.

All she could hear was Chief barking inside.

“Chief was barking, barking, barking, and he never barks,” Dignan said.

She rushed back to her house to get the key.

Back at the East Vancouver place, she found her son.

“There was Daryl, laying on the floor in the bedroom…I knew he was gone,” she said.

The coroner told Dignan her son’s drugs had been tainted with fentanyl.

‘Such a lovable, friendly dog’

After that terrible day, Chief became her constant companion.

“He followed me everywhere,” Dignan said. “If I went to the bathroom, he’d lay by the bathroom door; if I went downstairs, he’d follow me. He never left my side, and if I was going out, he’d jump in the car and come with me.”

On July 4, however, that living, breathing source of comfort, too, was taken from her.

Dignan said she let Chief out at about 7 a.m. as she usually did.

“Usually, he’d be up in five minutes; he’d just go to the bathroom and come up,” she said.

She heard two barks, she said, and then Chief disappeared.

Dignan is convinced someone has taken him.

He knew the neighbourhood, so she said Chief wouldn’t have gotten lost, and his chip would have provided anyone who found him with her contact information.

She has also contacted every agency she could think of and posted on every online site to no avail.

It wouldn’t have been hard to kidnap Chief, either, according to Dignan, because of his friendly temperament.

“He’d just go up to people and want them to pat him,” she said. “He was just such a lovable, friendly dog.”

Despite the time that’s elapsed since his disappearance, Dignan hasn’t given up hope Chief could still be found.

“I’m just hoping wherever he is, he can get out and get away and find his way home,” she said.

Dignan hopes anyone with information about Chief will give her a call at 604-294-0164.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor