Callous thieves have ruined Christmas for an Ulster family after making off with two treasured pets.
Shauna Newman, from Kilrea in Co Londonderry, last night told how her three children - Ellie (4), Anna (3) and Rosie (2) - were devastated after the puppies were taken from the family home on Christmas Eve.
"We are all gutted and our little girls are devastated," she said. "It has been three days since the puppies were stolen, and all they do is cry constantly and walk around the garden calling out the dogs' names. All their Christmas presents have been thrown aside; they couldn't care less now."
Mrs Newman, from Drumagarner Road just outside the town, believes the puppies - Tara, a brown, five-month-old Labrador female and Knuckles, a six- month-old, male, black Labrador/collie cross-breed - were taken from their garden between 10.15 and 10.30am.
"My husband Anthony and I were getting ready for Christmas and we only left our house for half an hour.
"When we got back, the dogs were gone. We have a cattle grid on the only entrance to our property, so they couldn't have got out by themselves."
The couple, who are both financial advisors, and four friends searched for the dogs without success until 4pm.
"I don't think it's any coincidence that an expensive dog should go missing the day before Christmas," she said.
"I think Tara was stolen to order. We have had her since she was born, but we had been waiting for six months to get her.
"Knuckles isn't worth as much, but, for us, neither dog has a monetary value. We love them both equally.
"Whoever did this knows that they have removed pets from a family home on Christmas Eve as the kids' toys and slide are in full view of the entrance where the cattle grid is," she added.
Tara, the chocolate lab, has an eye defect, which means that, without her medication, her eyes will now be very red and watery. Other distinguishing features include large paws.
Knuckles has a very long tail and looks like a black Labrador with a white diamond marking on his chest.
Anyone with information about the pups is asked contact the family on (028) 2954 1226, or Garvagh Police Station.