The heartbroken owners of a puppy, who died after he was set upon by another dog while out for an afternoon walk, have spoken for first time about the devastating incident.
Gemma Wilkinson and her husband Andy decided to speak out in a bid to warn other dog owners about keeping their pets safe and protected after their treasured cavachon, Freddie, died after the shocking incident.
Still coming to terms with their loss, which the couple say has left both them and their three young daughters 'heartbroken beyond belief' Gemma said: "Freddie was a loving, friendly, beautiful little dog who became the centre of our world.
"He was the pet my daughters had campaigned to have for so long and he was a massive part of the family. Our middle daughter even went out for a walk every morning and evening to prove to us that she was ready to take care of a dog.
"We all loved Freddie from the moment we got him, he completed the family."
The tragedy happened as Gemma walked Freddie on his lead through woods off Scott Street in Burnley at around 2pm on Wednesday, March 27th. A larger dog approached them from the opoosite direction off the lead and within a couple seconds started to attack Freddie.
Gemma said: "It all happened so quickly.
"Both myself and the owner of the other dog had to pull the dog off Freddie."
Scooping Freddie into her arms Gemma was able to run to her nearby family home where she enlisted the help of a builder who was working on a neighbouring property.
They bundled Freddie into the car and drove to Myercough Vets in Padiham who discovered Freddie had suffered severe multiple injuries including several punctures to his lungs.
His injuries were so severe Gemma was referred to the practice's surgery in Clayton-le-Dale where they have an operating theatre where surgeons battled for five hours to save Freddie's life.
Gemma added: "The vet rang to say that as they repaired one puncture wound they found another and they asked me if I wanted them to carry on.
"Of course I said yes as we wanted to do everything we could to save our boy."
Freddie survived the operation but sadly his little body had taken so much he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.
Gemma and Andy then faced the trauma of breaking the devastating news to their girls who have struggled to cope since their loss.
Gemma said: "They have spent hours crying and unable to sleep.
"This has broken our family but we decided that we wanted to speak out about it in Freddie's name to warn other families to be vigilant when out walking with their pets.
"Freddie was so friendly and affectionate and he always approached other dogs to play, but owners need to be on their guard and aware that this could happen to anyone and any dog is a potential risk."
The Wilkinsons reported the incident to the police who referred them to the local authority.
A Burnley Council spokesman said: "We're very sorry to hear about what must have been a horrendous experience for the dog's owners.
"We appreciate that it's a situation that has caused a great deal of distress. We are investigating the complaint and have spoken to all the parties involved."