DOG thieves who killed three puppies and stole a further six took them to sell as Christmas presents, the devastated owner claimed yesterday.
Darren Smith, 29, found the bodies of the three golden labrador puppies in their kennel last week and the other six missing.
Police are investigating the sickening incident which happened at his home in Killicrankie, Perthshire, overnight last Thursday and Friday.
Mr Smith, a gamekeeper, said the puppies were only four a half weeks old and not yet properly weaned from their mother Sasha, six.
A photograph of the stolen dogs and an appeal for their return has been shared more than 21,000 times on social media.
Mr Smith said the puppies were worth £300 each and he was losing hope of ever seeing them again.
He said: “The way I’m looking at it is we’ve not got much hope of finding out what happened. We’ve just got to get on with it.”
He added: “They would have been seven weeks old on Christmas Eve . It’s someone looking to make an easy pound over Christmas.
“They would have known it would have been Christmas and it would have been easy to get rid of them then.
“I was pretty devastated. Two of the three puppies that were killed were the smallest ones. I think whoever took them thought they would be harder to keep.”
Sympathisers have shared the appeal poster online.
Clayre Brain wrote: “Just absolutely heartbreaking. Sending love and thoughts to the owners and fingers crossed that they will be found safe.”
Vikki Heenan said: “I hope some good news comes soon, get these pups back where whey should be.”
Mr Smith’s mother, Lesley, asked potential buyers to look out for unregistered puppies for sale.
She said: “If you are offered a golden labrador, about 5 weeks old, do not buy without seeing the parents as the pups have been stolen.”
“These pups should still be with their mother and are too young to be separated from her.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland can confirm that officers are making enquiries into the theft.
“We ask that if anyone has any information they contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”