Autistic girl, 12, left ‘heartbroken’ after stolen therapy dog found dead

A therapy dog stolen in December from a "heartbroken" 12-year-old girl with autism has been found dead.

Chloe Hopkins was left devastated when Lottie, her three-year-old Dalmatian, was taken from her home in Peatling Parva, Leicestershire.

Lottie disappeared from a garden outhouse days after a suspicious drone was spotted circling her house.

In an attempt to locate Lottie an appeal was widely shared on social media and even received the support of TV presenter Chris Packham.

Sadly, it has now been announced on a Facebook page dedicated to finding Lottie that the pet's body had been found.

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Chloe's mum, Gemma, told the BBC the family were given the news in a phone call on Sunday after Lottie's microchip was scanned by a vet.

And they are still waiting to hear more information on the cause of her death.

Following the theft, Gemma offered a reward of £500 for the safe return of the family's treasured pet, describing Chloe and Lottie as "inseparable".

She added: "She helps Chloe calm down – she's her best friend."

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"She doesn't understand, with her autism she thinks somebody hates her and that's why someone's taken her dog."

In a post letting everyone know the sad news, Mrs Hopkins said: "Having to identify her was the hardest thing I've done. I've now got to break my 12-year-old's heart tonight.

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"We never wanted this ending. We kept hopeful. Goodbye my crazy bunch of spots."

Hundreds of people have been sharing their condolences on social media in response to the announcement.

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