‘We just want an answer’: Molly’s owner on her two-month ordeal
Last updated Aug 23, 2022
Emily Watson holds a poster about the search for Molly.

On the first really hot day of summer, Emily Watson’s dog walker arrived early to exercise her bichon frise Molly before the heat fully hit.

At about 9.20am, Emily received a call from the dog walker to say Molly had been spooked by another dog at Nidd Gorge and she’d spent the last 20 minutes looking for her.

Emily and her partner Ben went to join the hunt, thinking it was only a matter of time before Molly turned up. But by dusk she was panicking and her family’s life hasn’t been the same since.

On the two-month anniversary of when Molly went missing, Emily sat down with her mum Beverley Malins to talk about the story that has gripped Harrogate — and how she remains desperate for a final chapter with a happy ending.

Molly has distinctive red fur on her chest.

Amid the ongoing torture, the search has revealed the best of humanity as hundreds of people have given thousands of hours to join the quest to find Molly and dozens of people have donated everything from thermal imaging cameras to signs.

On the day we met, a couple from Glasgow, who were visiting York on holiday, had been in touch offering to come to Harrogate to help. Emily says:

“The generosity of even total strangers has been amazing. I don’t know how I can repay everybody or thank them enough.

“From the moment the dog walking community found out, they were all there to help.

First family pet

Molly was 12 weeks old when she became Emily and Ben’s first dog. Beverley says:

“I was apprehensive because Emily had never had a dog before but she has absolutely blown me away with her commitment.”

Molly was aged four when she went missing and a treasured part of the family that also includes three children aged 12, 10 and three. Youngest Hugo sometimes sleeps in Molly’s bed and often carries a stuffed dog toy.

Missing Molly and Hugo, 3

Hugo sleeping in Molly’s bed.

Few hunts for pets have been more intense. It has involved search parties of up to 50 people, drones, thermal imaging cameras, wildlife cameras, a live cam, sniffer dogs and a huge awareness campaign that has led to a Facebook group with almost 3,000 followers. Emily says:

“People have been out to the middle of the night. Everybody has been incredible.”

Read more:

Emily’s phone barely stops ringing. Sometimes she gets hoax calls and possible sightings are reported daily. She has learned the hard way to be wary.

“A month ago a man called me. He said, ‘I’ve got your dog, she’s got cuts to her legs but she’s fine. I’m 100% certain it’s her. Come to Ripley to collect her.

“I started crying and my heart was absolutely pounding. We got to Ripley car park and I went to pick her up from the back of his vehicle and my heart just dropped when I realised it wasn’t her.

“I didn’t know what to say. The man messaged later to say he was really sorry.

“I didn’t even think to say ‘could you send me a photo?’ because I was so excited. Now I ask for a photo or video because it’s too upsetting to be let down.”

‘Like getting on a roundabout every day’

Molly has distinctive red staining on her chest from drinking water and getting her fur wet.

Emily is acutely aware some people think she is dead but lost dogs have turned up years later and she refuses to give up hope. She says:

“It’s the not knowing. Sometimes you feel deflated because you think you are chasing nothing. We just want an answer.”

Beverley, who has joined 40 Facebook pages for missing dogs, says:

“It’s like getting on a roundabout every day. Every day is the same and it’s never ending.”

While everything has been going on, Emily has had to be a mum and hold down two jobs. She runs a business providing balloon for events and works at the Yorkshire Hotel, which has granted her time off.

Emily Watson and Beverley Malins, Molly

Emily and her mum Beverley Malins

Amid the dozens of people helping, three people — Jen Bell, Colin Corker and Mark Smith — are singled out for special thanks for helping with everything from social media to drones.

They’ve done a remarkable job keeping a missing dog story in the news so long. Now everybody is hoping for a happy ending. Emily says:

“It’s now at the point where we have to hope for sightings, hope for good news. I will just cry and cry if she comes back.”





Download the FREE Stray Ferret app here to access the latest news, competitions and offers.