A DEVASTATED animal lover whose treasured chihuahuas were stolen from her back garden has put up a substantial reward for their safe return.
Two-year-old dogs Tinkerbell and Thumbelina were taken from the back yard of their home in Chapel Street, Rishton, on Valentine’s Day.
Thumbelina was due to give birth to puppies the day after she was stolen and tearful owner Ann Grogan said she is terrified the pair are not being cared for properly.
Mrs Grogan, who is suffering from a form of leukaemia, is now offering a reward of £2,500 for the safe return of "her girls", with no questions asked.
She told the Observer: "I am not in the best of health as it is, but the worry is making me quite poorly.
"I keep imagining the girls in a dirty shed somewhere. I just want them back now."
Mrs Grogan’s son Tim, 32, who is her full-time carer, was also at home the day the dogs were stolen.
After moving into the house six months ago, the pair put up a fence around the yard so people wouldn’t be able to see the dogs.
However, the offenders prised off the garden gate and the dogs, worth £1,000 each, were stolen without a trace.
Mrs Grogan, who has three other chihuahuas, said: "We had left the kitchen door open so they could go in and out as they pleased.
"All of a sudden we heard a terrible screaming. We thought it might have been Thumbelina because of the babies but by the time Tim got to the back yard they had vanished into thin air.
"I can’t understand why they both didn’t bark or scream earlier. The other day they were going mad after seeing a slug on a fence. Maybe someone was throwing food for them over the fence.
"Thumbelina will definitely have had her pups by now. The dogs are my world and I adore them deeply. I am devastated that they have been taken away from me."
Both dogs have long fur. Thumbelina is cream-coloured with a white chest and Tinkerbell is sable-coloured with a black face.
Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward if they have any details about the dogs’ whereabouts.
Anyone who can help should ring 0845 1253 545 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.