A terrified Wigan mum and young daughter were threatened with a meat cleaver and knife by dognappers.
Four pedigree Dogue de Bourdeaux puppies were the target of the thugs who burst in Laura Reardon’s home in Worsley Mesnes on Monday night.
Her 10-year-old daughter, who had been upstairs, came down after hearing the noise and one of the intruders told her to get back upstairs or else something would happen to her.
A friend of 31-year-old Laura, who was in another room, was also kept at bay by the armed men as the pair first tried to steal the 11-week-old pets in their cage and then made a grab for them individually.
Laura says she was also “half-strangled” as she fought to stop one of the men from taking her phone and so ring for help.
The thieves fled in a silver Volkswagen - either a Golf or a Polo - which had been parked behind the home in Prestt Grove at the time of the 8.30pm robbery.
The puppies are three tan-coloured bitches called Deon, Pepper and Decota and one tan-coloured dog called Ty.
Laura and her daughter, who we have decided not to name, are now living in fear and hoping to get transferred to a new home. Both police and the organisation DogLost.co.uk today appealed for help in tracing the stolen animals quickly before they are sold on.
Single mum Laura said: “I had just put the bins out and left the door unlocked, my friend was in the other room and my daughter was upstairs when these two men walked in. I had been mopping the floor and the taller of them backed me into the kitchen.
“He had a wild starey look on his face as if he was intoxicated. The other one stopped my friend from coming through.
“At first I was so shocked I was arguing with them, despite the weapons. They said they wanted the dogs and first tried to take their cage but then picked them up individually by their harnesses.
“My poor daughter heard all the shouting and came downstairs only for her to be threatened by these men too. Then one of them started throttling me to get my phone off me and I nearly passed out but eventually he gave up and they left.
“We were all left very shaken and upset. I felt just sickened. It’s not something you expect to happen just for a few puppies.”
Laura says she believes the thieves may have come looking after she put pictures of the dogs on Facebook, although she had not mentioned her address.
She said that while the dogs can be very expensive to buy, because the thieves don’t have the Kennel Club documents proving their pedigree, they won’t be able to sell them for very much at all.
The first thief was white, about 6ft tall, aged about 35, of skinny build with symbol and writing-type tattoos on his neck, very short light hair, fair skin and he spoke with a Wigan accent.
He wore a grey Nike sweatshirt with multi-coloured details on the tops of the arms. His accomplice was white, aged 25 to 30, of stockier build and with tanned skin, wearing dark clothing, possibly a North Face tracksuit.
Christine Mather from DogLost said: “This was a terrible ordeal for Laura and her daughter. We would appeal for anyone with details of the crime to get in touch with the police. And we want to get the message out to people about finding these dogs urgently before they are sold on and possibly taken out of the area.”
A police spokesman said that anyone with information about the robbery should contact them on 101 or Crimestopper on 0800 555111.