'Help us find stolen Bruce'

DEVASTATED dog owners have appealed to thieves who stole their truck with their beloved pet Labrador inside to return their pet.Elsie and Peter Hammond are hunting desperately for seven-year-old Bruce but have seen nothing of the "lovely, gentle and timid" animal since the truck was taken from outside their Great Livermere Hall home near Bury St Edmunds.

DEVASTATED dog owners have appealed to thieves who stole their truck with their beloved pet Labrador inside to return their pet.

Elsie and Peter Hammond are hunting desperately for seven-year-old Bruce but have seen nothing of the "lovely, gentle and timid" animal since the truck was taken from outside their Great Livermere Hall home near Bury St Edmunds.

They begged the thieves to return their pet and appealed for anyone who sees him to contact the police.

A tearful Mrs Hammond, who said her husband's Mitsubishi truck with Bruce in the cab was gone within minutes of her husband walking in from work on Tuesday evening, said both she and her husband were beside themselves with worry.

"The truck can be replaced but that dog can't be replaced and we don't want to replace him – we just want him back," she said.

The animal-lover said she adored the gun dog but he was her husband's constant companion.

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"They are always together. He loves the dog and the dog loves him – they go together. It's man and dog together.

"Bruce is a lovely gentle dog – he's not a bully and would never bite anyone. "We're looking for him everywhere and would appeal for the thieves to bring him back to us or make contact so we can get him back.

"It makes us feel sad to think what could have happened to him. He could be anywhere – he could have been kicked out of the truck when the thieves realised he was there, which is an awful feeling."

Mrs Hammond said she and her husband had been searching in the Woolpit area after hearing reports of a black dog on the loose in the village but had so far found nothing.

She has also called local authorities and police forces in a bid to track down Bruce, who was not wearing a collar when the van was taken at just after 5.30pm on Tuesday.

Mrs Hammond said her husband, who runs a game farm and shoot, came and put his things down and was about to head back to his green and silver van for Bruce when there was a phone call for him.

When he had finished, he found no sign of the truck or Bruce.

"Both had gone in under 10 minutes. We searched around thinking it had rolled back into the shadows and phoned anyone we could think of who may have moved it but we soon realised it must have been stolen.

"The thieves must have either followed my husband in or been waiting for him."

Anyone with information about what has happened to Bruce or the theft itself should contact Bury police on 01284 774100.

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