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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ryan Merrifield

Nicola Bulley's dog found 'bone dry' next to river where mum vanished as mystery deepens

Missing mum Nicola Bulley's dog was found "bone dry" next to the river where she vanished, according to a villager.

The 45-year-old mum disappeared last Friday morning while on a walk with springer spaniel Willow in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire.

She had dropped her two daughters at school at around 8.45am before taking the dog along a nearby towpath by the River Wyre.

She was last seen at around 9.15am, with fellow walkers reportedly describing her as "laughing and joking", but she has not been seen since.

Willow was found by another dog walker wandering around on her own, while her harness and Nicola's phone were found near a bench close to the water.

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Nicola Bulley disappeared on Friday while out walking her dog (Lancashire Police / SWNS)
Nicola's dog Willow was found 'bone dry' next to the river (Facebook)

The alarm was raised and Nicola's partner Paul was contacted and he raced to the scene, before calling 999.

A major police search was launched and has also seen hundreds of local residents scouring the area for any sign of the missing mum.

The force says it remains "open minded" as to Nicola's disappearance but insist they do not believe at present that she was attacked.

Her desperate parents told the Mirror today they have asked police: “Is there any chance she was taken?” - with little in the way of definitive clues being found.

A local told the MailOnline: "I know the woman who found Willow. She said the dog was near the river bank and close to the bench that Nicola's phone was found.

A huge search operation has been launched (Paul Greenwood/REX/Shutterstock)

"Willow was bone dry and so hadn't been into the water but the dog was in an agitated state."

Rescuers were today focusing on a tidal stretch of the river amid fears Nicola may have fallen in and been dragged downstream towards the coast, nine miles away.

A business owner - who did not wish to be named - says she raised the alarm after finding Willow.

She said the phone was found under a tree which has a sign warning of deep water nailed to it.

A Search and Rescue team on the river (Lee McLean/SWNS)

The underwater drop is estimated to be around 14 feet at the spot by the bench.

The woman said: "I saw the dog and I recognised it, but I suddenly couldn't think whose dog it was.

"There was a mobile phone on the bench and there was also something between the bench and the river so I went and looked, and it was a dog harness."

She said the dog looked "worried" and after speaking to her daughter-in-law was told it belonged to Nicola.

Nicola's phone was found on a bench overlooking the river (Getty Images)

Mystery surrounds Nicola's disappearance with the search set to enter its seventh day tomorrow.

Her dad Ernest told the Mirror today: “There was no sign of a slip or falling in, so our thought was, ‘Has somebody got her?’

"I asked the Sergeant, ‘Is there any chance of her being taken’ and she said, ‘I don’t think that’s the case’. I said, ‘How can you know that?’

“It’s such an isolated area, the only way that has happened is if it was someone who knew her.”

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