Nicola Bulley: Shop owner 'found missing woman's dog running free and phone on bench'
The woman spotted Nicola Bulley's brown springer spaniel Willow running free on the bank of the River Wyre in Lancashire.
A shop owner has spoken of the moment she raised the alarm about missing Nicola Bulley after she came across the mum-of-two's "worried" dog by the side of a river.
Ms Bulley, 45, went missing last Friday morning, with her mobile phone found on a bench near to where she was last seen on a towpath by the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
Now the woman who spotted Ms Bulley's brown springer spaniel Willow running free on the river bank on Friday morning said she "recognised" the dog and informed police after realising who it belonged to.
The woman, who did not want be named, also found Ms Bulley's mobile phone on a bench by the side of the river, under a tree which has a sign warning of deep water nailed to it.
She said Willow was running free and she found the dog's harness on the floor next to the river.
The woman, who runs a business in St Michaels on Wyre, Lancashire, said she knew of Ms Bulley and hoped nothing "bad" had happened to her.
She said: "I saw the dog and I recognised it, but I suddenly couldn't think whose dog it was.
Watch: Police search continues for missing Nicola Bulley
"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.
"The dog looked worried so I tied her up and rushed home as I had to go to an appointment."
After returning home she spoke to her daughter-in-law, who "immediately" knew who the dog was and alerted both her partner and the police.
The business owner added: "I know of her and her partner because I walk around the river a lot to pass the time.
"I always say morning to them or comment on how it's a lovely day but that's all.
"It's just awful, I hope to God that it's not a bad outcome."
Mystery surrounds Ms Bulley's disappearance last Friday and a major police search entered its seventh day today.
She vanished while walking Willow on her usual route after dropping her two young daughters off at school.
Her mobile phone was still connected to a work call when it was found, police said.
On Tuesday, police found a “potential key witness” following an appeal.
They said the man was walking a small white fluffy dog on a lead, had spoken to a woman in the area who found Ms Bulley’s dog, before he walked in the direction of Rowanwater.
Ms Bulley's partner, Paul Ansell, said she has “two little girls that need their mummy home”.
Ms Bulley is 5ft 3ins, with light brown shoulder-length hair and speaks with an Essex accent.
She was last seen wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive-green ankle wellies. Her hair was in a ponytail.
Lancashire Police have said they are keeping an “open mind” about what happened, but do not believe Ms Bulley was attacked.
Anybody who has seen Ms Bulley, or has information about where she might be, is asked to call 101, or 999 if they have an immediate sighting.