THE owner of a pup stolen from her Coleraine home and later found dead says she is “totally devastated” following the incident.
A male boxer dog was then able to escape after the thieves removed a plank from a fence to steal the younger female boxer called Belle.
The theft took place sometime between 1am and 9am on Friday morning in the Woodburn Crescent area of Ballysally and the police are appealing for information.
It is thought the larger male dog, which is said to be friendly and answers to the name Oakley, then chewed his way through a wooden cross member to make enough space to get out.
Over 36 hours after the theft, Belle was found around 9pm on Saturday on the town’s Bushmills Road — less than a quarter of a mile from where she was stolen.
The distraught owner, Katrina Paine, has described the two dogs as “best friends” of the family.
“I got a call last night [Saturday] from a neighbour of mine saying there was a boxer dog lying on the road near Right Price Carpets and it’s dead.
“I went up and it was my wee bitch,” she said.
Mrs Paine said a local vet will be carrying out a post mortem examination on Belle early this week to establish how she died.
“It is a mystery. I want the wee dog cremated but we’ve put her back in the kennel until the vet can take her. We were hoping that he [Oakley] would scent her and come home, but nothing.
“A few people think they saw him around the Gateside Road area on Friday morning but we’ve been round there and there’s no sign of him. I even called at doors and put posters up as well.
“Me and my husband have broke our hearts over this.”
Mrs Paine said it was a “real mystery” how Belle came to be on the road on Saturday night, but was unable to confirm some rumours circulating locally that the dog had been thrown from a car.
“Whenever I got to her she was still warm. I checked her all over and checked her paws.
“If she had been missing for those two days she would have been freezing and her paws would have been rough and cut so somebody must have had her.
“I’m just totally devastated. My husband, Neil, is registered disabled and they were his best friends. They sat out in the shed with him and he’s heartbroken too.”
Oakley – described as microchipped, fawn and white in colour with a black collar – has still not been found.
A police spokesman said: “Anyone who is offered a dog like this for sale under suspicious circumstances or who has any information is asked to contact police at Coleraine on 0845 600 8000.”
Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.