TV star Chris Packham joins appeal to find family's beloved dog stolen from a house near Lutterworth
World-famous TV star Chris Packham is backing the fight to find a youngster’s beloved dog stolen from a village near Lutterworth.
The high-profile Springwatch presenter has contacted Gemma Hopkins, 35, to support her desperate battle to find her autistic daughter Chloe’s pet Lottie.
The rare three-year-old liver spot Dalmatian was stolen from the family’s home in Peatling Parva between 3am and 7am on Sunday December 1.
Posting a picture of Chloe, 11, cuddling Lottie on his Twitter page, Packham has tweeted: “Please help reunite Chloe with Lottie.
“I can imagine her life without her and it isn’t good. “Anyone with any information please call Leicestershire Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 19000643906, or Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Gemma told the Harborough Mail: “Chris has been absolutely fantastic.
“He’s such a well-known guy on television that we’re thrilled to have him behind us.
“He’s a massive dog lover and emailed me to say he’s supporting us all the way and really wants to help us.”
The distraught mum-of-six said Packham can also strongly relate to Chloe because he has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.
“We bought Lottie, who’s a special therapy dog, as a pup for Chloe’s birthday three years ago and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
“It’s her birthday on Christmas Eve,” said Gemma.
“So it goes without saying that it will be the best Christmas and birthday present she’s ever had if we can get Lottie back for her over the next few days.”
“I want to see the sick people who stole our beautiful Lottie charged and prosecuted in court.
“But at the moment we are just totally focused on bringing her home safe and sound and reuniting her with poor Chloe.”
She said Lottie was snatched from her kitchen along with her bed.
“Lottie has a kidney problem and goes to the toilet a lot so we leave the back door open for her to go into the garden.
“She’s so clever that she even shuts the door behind her,” said Gemma.
“I’m sure Lottie was stolen to order.
“A drone hovered over our house just days before she was taken.
“It had three or four cameras and I’m convinced the crooks were targeting us.
“They were carrying out high-tech surveillance before coming to steal Lottie.”
The exhausted mum said the cruel crime had “ripped the heart” out of devastated Chloe’s life.
“These evil people have destroyed her world.
“They’ve just turned up and stolen her best friend,” said Gemma.
“It’s heartbreaking to see Chloe crying her eyes out until 2am in the morning because she can’t get to sleep.
“We’ve been walking all over the fields around here shouting out Lottie’s name in case she’s out there.
“We’re also searching every barn in the area.
“We’ll never give up trying to find Lottie – it’s like losing a child.”
The escalating mission to track down Lottie has been shared by Facebook users all over the UK and even overseas as the emotion-charged story’s gone viral.
“I’ve even had people ringing up from Wales and as far away as Australia wishing us well.
“On the other hand I’ve had sick people shouting down my phone in the early hours that my dog is dead,” said Gemma.
“Others have rang up pretending to sell me insurance or windows.
“I was in tears most of Monday – it’s been a rough few days.
“But I’ll never quit looking for Lottie.
“She’s a unique, very distinctive-looking dog and is probably being kept out of sight.
“So I can’t stress enough - please call the police straight away if you think you know where she is.”
A Leicestershire Police spokesperson said: “We are currently appealing for people with any information to come forward to assist with our investigation and we encourage anyone who hasn’t yet spoken to police to come forward.”