The family of a man killed in a car crash on Monday in central Queensland, have issued a desperate plea to help find his missing dog.
Described as his 'best mate', Merlin was with Simon Hannan when the car he was driving was involved in a crash on Wuruma Dam Road in North Burnett – about 440 kilometres north-west of Brisbane. The 34-year-old man was transported to hospital, but died as a result of his injuries. The other driver was not injured.
When police arrived at the scene they saw Merlin, but the distressed dog ran into bushland and hasn't been seen since.
Hannan's stepdad David McDougall issued an emotional plea on Facebook asking people to help the family, based in Perth, search for the dog.
"My stepson Simon was tragically killed yesterday... He had his best mate (Merlin) in the car with him," he wrote.
"It has been hard to get details, but Merlin has run from the crash seen [sic] at some point and has not been seen since.
"What I'm asking is that everyone that I know, if you can copy and paste this photo and send to anyone that you know in the Central QLD area or any Trucking Companys that you know of in the Monto area and that travel the Burnett Hwy."
The Facebook post has been shared 14,000 times and received over 1,700 comments.
Mr McDougall told Essential Kids this afternoon that unfortunately there was still no good news but they are confident Merlin is in the immediate area. He flew in to Brisbane from Perth late last night then drove six hours to Monto with Simon's mother, Jan and his brother, Jason.
"We spent a good hour and a half at the crash scene when we arrived, calling out to her, but Merlin didn't appear, " he said. "We saw the state of the car and along with being very frightened, are concerned she could be injured from the impact of the crash."
He said Simon was a "gentle soul with a heart of gold" and had been travelling around Australia for the last 14 years, mostly in remote bush areas helping out doing handyman jobs.
"He would do anything for anyone and loved his animals," he said. "We are just trying to take the positives out of ths terrible tragedy and hoping for Merlin's safe return."
Mr McDougall also wanted to thank everyone for their ongoing support, particularly the incredible generosity of the two communities and the valiant effort of the emergency services.
"We are totally blown away and humbled by the response from everyone and can not express our gratitude enough for the support and well wishes. It's amazing what happens when communities come together."
One of Simon's best friends, Amanda Bell, has set up a Facebook page - 'Bring Merlin home' and hashtag #bringmerlinhome - to help with the search.
"So many people have been out searching and leaving food for her," she told Essential Kids. "There have been some possible sightings, but nothing confirmed. We are not going to lose hope."
"Merlin was Simon's world and we need to find her," she said.
Merlin went missing at around 11:30am on Monday from the intersection of Wuruma Dam Rd and Burnett Hwy.
Police told the South Burnett Times that Merlin had fled the scene when first responders tried to approach him.
He hoped the dog would be found to help ease the family's pain.
"People treat their dogs like kids," Monto police sergeant Mick Bazzo said.
"They're not going to get their partner, brother or son back, but to get (Merlin) back would be some sort of comfort."
Ms Bell also cautioned to anyone who thinks they see Merlin, to please approach her calmly. "She is extremely scared at the moment. Please keep sharing and keep an eye out."