Calgary

Alberta family desperate to have special-needs pet tortoise returned

The owners of a pet tortoise who went missing from their backyard believe he may have been pinched and they desperately want him back.

Georgey has specific health requirements and he's a lousy swimmer

Have you seen Georgey the pet tortoise? His Airdrie family is desperate to have him returned after he went missing Tuesday afternoon. (Theresa Dykstra)

The owners of a pet tortoise who went missing from their backyard believe he may have been pinched and they desperately want him back.

Georgey — an eight-year-old red-footed tortoise — was relaxing Tuesday afternoon when Theresa Dykstra's partner stepped inside the house to check on the couple's young son.

"We often put George out in our yard to catch some UVs because he's a red-footed tortoise," Dykstra told CBC News.

"My husband put him out for the afternoon and went inside to check on my three-year-old son who was sleeping. Between 3:30 p.m and 4 p.m. he was removed from our yard. Our gates and fences are all tortoise-proofed and locked but somehow he was removed unfortunately."

Dykstra says her son is missing his little friend a great deal.

"My little boy absolutely adores him," the Airdrie mother explained.

"He was so upset because he thought that we were leaving Georgey outside to die. We just need him back. He is part of the family."

Georgey has specific health and environmental requirements.

"He requires special lighting, special ground to walk on. He has a very specific daily diet of fruits and vegetables."

Georgey's family is concerned people will mistake him for a turtle (he is actually a tortoise) and toss him in the water. He can't swim. (Theresa Dykstra)

Dykstra is also concerned that people will mistake Georgey for a turtle.

"He's a tortoise and I am scared someone is going to think he is a turtle and can be released into the water and he will sink like a rock."

The executive director of the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society says the incident is not unheard of.

"It does happen for sure where animals are stolen. Very rare, I would think, for a tortoise but I think tortoises are pretty rare to begin with. It is a unique animal. I really would hope that somebody wouldn't steal it but you never know," Deanna Thompson said.

"Hopefully he gets home soon."

'It's a theft, property crime'

The Calgary Humane Society says they don't deal with a lot of tortoises or turtles, but if it's theft the police should be involved.

"When we get turtles it's typically because they were seized for neglect. It is fairly rare," Brad Nichols said.

"Animals do get stolen. It's a theft, property crime."

Georgey is dark brown in colour with yellow tips on parts of his shell and red markings on his feet.

The family can be contacted through their Facebook post.

With files from Tahirih Foroozan

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