A REWARD is being offered for information about burglars who stole a 12-week-old puppy which died after being left tied to a gate in Darwen.

Tears are still being shed at the Cranberry Lane house of Andrew Bolland, Gemma Knowles and their distraught children Penelope, two, Josh 10 and Dominic, 13.

British Bulldog Wilma was stolen during a burglary on Tuesday morning.

Watch video of the family's beloved British Bulldog Wilma 

The family posted appeals on social media with a reward for her return but were devastated to discover Wilma dead outside their house on Thursday morning ­— tied to the front gate by metal wire.

Gemma says they have been overwhelmed by support and messages from people

She said: “It's awful, and really quiet in the house. None of us have really slept with what has happened and we don’t feel safe. It is not the same, as it used to be a mad house with our children running around barking with Wilma.

"We really miss her. Everyone has been great and we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts for trying to get her back. We still want to find out who did it, that is why we have set up #JusticeforWilma on social media.

“The people who did this are still walking the streets and they could do it to someone else and we don’t want another family to go through it.

“We have had so many people telling us information about it so we are offering a reward for help. It is the worst news I have had to deal with in 10 years of me and my partner being together.

“We had Dominic and Josh going to school after seeing something so horrific. No kids should have to deal with that.”

Thieves broke into the house on Tuesday morning while the family were out. They ransacked the children’s bedrooms before stealing keys for a Mercedes 4x4 ML, which was recovered near Marsh House Lane. A paintball gun and some cash were also stolen.

READ: Family 'heartbroken' after stolen puppy is found dead on Darwen gate *WARNING: Distressing image*

Gemma says Wilma was cremated in Leyland this morning and they planned to bring her home afterwards.

The 31-year-old added: “She will be going in a lovely urn as we want to keep her with us. All we wanted was Wilma back safe, she should not have been with these people.

“If I could turn back time over the past three days I would. I wonder if I could have got up a bit earlier on Thursday, perhaps I could have helped but you can't think like that.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Wilma the British Bulldog with Penelope Bolland

Two Gofundme pages have been set up ­— one of them by close friend Abby Kilshaw who wants to raise £3,000 for the family.

Gemma added: “I was a bit sceptical at first because it was all so raw but so many people want to help the children.

“I don’t want to buy a new puppy because Wilma will never be replaced. But the money would be good for them to decide whether they want a new puppy or whether they want to give it to a charity.”

Abby said: “I feel physically sick. My partner Ryan Williams and I were up during the night setting the page up.

“It is the least that the family deserve considering what they have gone through.

“We were shocked to hear about it because we actually bred her. This has been a big ordeal for the kids, we are thinking the money could go towards taking them for a day out or replace the things that were stolen. It may even help with CCTV for the family so they feel safer.”

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