Seven tiny pedigree pups stolen in a break-in on the Newry border face certain death if they aren't returned, their owners have warned.
The three-week-old German shepherd pups were taken from their mother in a boiler house adjoining the home in the Jonesborough area during a burglary on Saturday, their owner John Kehoe said.
His children Daniel (8) and Grace (7) have spent the days since the burglary combing roads and hedgerows near their home in case the tiny "balls of fluff" had been thrown from the car.
The family has also scoured three markets in the wider area in case anyone has been trying to sell the animals - worth upwards of £500 apiece - from the boot of a car.
"The house was broken into on Saturday, but they didn't break in and steal the usual loot as such - they stole the dogs," Mr Kehoe said.
"They were just three weeks old and being nursed by their mother in a boiler room just off the house. They won't survive if we don't get them back very soon - within 24 to 48 hours. If not, I fear it will be too late."
Mr Kehoe said the loss of the pups - three dogs and four bitches - has left the mother "absolutely distraught". Two of the animals are a black and tan colour, while another is an unusual sable colour.
"When they were stolen they were seven balls of fluff,"he said.
"It's the cruelty aspect more than the monetary thing that is of most concern - there is no way they can survive unless they get their mother's milk or a foster mother. I am trying very hard to find them - people are going to hear this yapping noise."
Mr Kehoe said the children are very upset as they had already named the pups.
"They had great plans over what they were going to do. They knew what they were going to call them and they were trying to talk us into not selling any of them."
Mr Kehoe has appealed to anyone who can help find the pups to contact him at 07778 119012 or Newry police at 0845 6008000.
The USPCA added its voice to the appeal, calling on people to contact the PSNI.
Spokesman David Wilson said: "It seems likely that those dogs are going to die as the thieves left the mother behind and they are not weaned. It may even be too late now to get those animals back."