A FAMILY have been left devastated after heartless thieves killed their beloved dog in an armed raid.

The aggravated burglary, which also left two people injured, took place in the middle of the night and police are appealing for witnesses.

Up to four men approached a 21-year-old man outside his home in Valkyrie Road, Westcliff, just before 12.35am on Sunday, November 18.

They assaulted him, forced him to open the front door of his house and went inside, where they assaulted a man and a woman aged in their 50s.

The thugs, who were armed with two knives, also attacked the family dog, who had given birth to seven puppies in August.

In a Facebook post, a copy of which has been shared more than 800 times, a family member urged people to share the police’s appeal in a bid to find their dog’s killer.

She added: “Nothing hurts more than losing a pet, a family member, man’s best friend.

“But it’s even worse when they are taken from you. Our darling China was stabbed while trying to protect her owners and being the best dog she knew how to be.

“My heart has never ached so much and I cannot begin to imagine how I will fill this void.

“Your puppies will be loved and cared for and if they turn into the dog you were, we will be the luckiest owners in the world.

“Sleep tight you ginger beauty and keep Reefa company for me until we meet again angel.”

After the assault, the suspects searched a bedroom and stole an Xbox games console and two mobile phones.

There were believed to be three or four men, who were all described as being black and wearing dark clothing.

The dog was rushed to the vets, but sadly they were unable to save her and she died from a ruptured spleen after being stabbed and badly beaten.

Enquiries are ongoing to track down the vicious thugs who carried out the attack and police are urgently appealing for witnesses.

Police want to speak to anyone who was in the area at the time and saw what happened, or has any information that could assist with the investigation.

Call Southend CID on 101 quoting reference 42/168324/18 if you think you can help.

Alternatively, if you have information contact independent crimefighting charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111.

You can also share information via the charity’s anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information-online