An appeal has been issued by a south Belfast family after their much-loved family pet Coco was stolen from their back garden.
The Gray family is distraught after the five-year-old chihuahua was taken from their home on the Lower Ormeau Road on Sunday June 27 shortly before 5pm.
Their precious pet joined the family of three girls Chloe (19), Chelsea and Faye (11) and their father Declan shortly after the death of their mother in April 2015 and also serves as a therapy dog for a member of the family who is autistic.
Chloe Irvine Gray said her sister Faye, who is also non-verbal, needs the dog for support. “The dog is part of her routine. My mummy passed away suddenly in April 2015 and we got the dog that Christmas.
"She’s very special and she helped us, she came at the right time. My wee sister would have been very close to my mummy and after she died, Coco helped us with the grieving process. She’s only a wee dog but she’s part of our family,” she said.
Coco is an integral part of the family and is a “playful and protective” dog, she said. Chloe’s father Declan brought the dog for a walk shortly before she went missing, where the dog “wandered off”.
“She’s usually good off the lead and would come back to you if you call but she lost my daddy. Whenever that’s happened before, she would wait at the house for us because she knows her way back,” said Chloe.
“One of our neighbours said a man tried to grab her, she jumped out of his hands and ran away and got into our back garden. Our neighbour said she saw three men enter our garden and grab the dog. On the Antrim Road that night she was seen at a bus stop with a man before she was seen again in town later.”
Police have told the family they would enquire on the whereabouts of the pet and a post has been shared on the Lost Paws - Lost and Found NI Facebook page.
The PSNI has been contacted in relation to this story.