Leicester

Girl's Christmas and birthday without therapy dog

Lottie with Chloe Image copyright Gemma Hopkins
Image caption Gemma Hopkins said her daughter Chloe and Lottie have "such an amazing bond - she is her best friend"

A girl with autism is facing Christmas and her birthday without her therapy dog after it was stolen.

Lottie the Dalmatian was taken three weeks ago from a house in Peatling Parva, Leicestershire.

All Chloe Hopkins, who turned 12 on Christmas Eve, wants is the return of Lottie, her mum said.

A plea to find Lottie has been shared on social media and TV presenter Chris Packham, who himself has Asperger's syndrome, has also made an appeal.

Image copyright Gemma Hopkins
Image caption Three years ago Chloe was given Lottie as a gift

Mr Packham retweeted a BBC news story about the dog's disappearance and said: "Please help reunite Chloe with Lottie. I can imagine her life without her and it isn't good."

He posted a further appeal earlier, wishing Chloe "Happy Birthday".

Three-year-old Lottie was taken from Chloe's home on 1 December.

Her mum Gemma, said it had been a really emotional time for Chloe and her birthday and Christmas "won't be the same".

"It will be a very sad time for her. For a few days she did not want to put the tree up or anything," she explained.

"All she wants for Christmas is Lottie. It has completely broken her heart."

Image copyright Gemma Hopkins
Image caption Every day since Lottie was taken the family walks the route they used to take her

She said Lottie could tell when Chloe was going to have an anxiety attack and would sit with her.

"Lottie helps her cope and now her coping mechanism is not there. We have lost a member of the family, not just a pet."

Leicestershire Police said: "A bolt on the door of an outhouse was bent and the dog was stolen."

The force said there had been no arrests and inquiries were continuing.

Mrs Hopkins said she thought her rare-breed dog was deliberately targeted because nothing else was taken from their home.

She had also seen a drone over the house a few days earlier - something she considered unusual at the time.

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