YOUNGSTERS have been left devastated after thieves broke into a community allotment and snatched dozens of animals.
Now there are concerns that some of the animals could die if they do not get urgent medical attention.
Samantha Cornforth cares for sick, injured and pregnant animals at her allotment.
She is visited by youngsters who pet the animals, and some of the children leave their pets in her care.
But raiders struck at the plot, off Acacia Avenue, in Horden, and stole 36 hens, six rabbits and four quails.
“I’m gutted,” said Samantha, 27. “It’s not the first time I have been broken into and not the first time I have had livestock taken.
“A mother of one of the children let her child know what had happened, and when I got there she was waiting on the doorstep crying her eyes out wanting to know if her rabbit had been taken.”
Samantha, who lives in the Oakerside Park area of Peterlee, added: “People can’t be taking animals when they are sick and poorly
“I need them back or they are just going to die.
“They shouldn’t be taking baby rabbits away from their mothers and they are not going to be able to give the animals the care that I can.”
The incident happened between 11.15pm on Wednesday, and 5.15am on Thursday.
Anyone with infromation should call Pc Kathryn Davies, of Peterlee Police, on 101.