BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – Four English bulldog puppies fathered by a best of breed winner in last year’s Westminster Dog Show were stolen during a break-in at the owner’s apartment, city police said.

The five-week-old puppies are the offspring of Cherokee Legend Rock, the best of breed winner for bulldogs in the 2006 show, and La Bella, a female bulldog and offspring of another award-winning bulldog, said owner Henry Valer.

“They’re nice quality dogs, purebred champion bloodlines,” Valer, 33, said of three males and a female.

Valer, a breeder registered with the American Kennel Club, said the puppies, who have not yet been named, were stolen during a burglary at his apartment in Bridgeport on Thursday. He said he came home from his job at a Fairfield dog grooming business in the afternoon and found his apartment door kicked in.

“Just the mother and grandmother (bulldogs) were there. The puppies, somebody took them from the house,” Valer told the Connecticut Post.

It’s important to find the dogs as soon as possible because they still need to be hand-fed and haven’t had shots that protect their health while they are away from their mother, said Vilma Vicente, owner of Head to Tail Grooming where Valer works.

“They need the mother. They need nourishing. They need special food,” Valer said. “They need a lot of human care. They can’t survive without their mother.”

Police said the puppies are valued at a total of $10,000.

Vicente said Valer had deals to sell three of the dogs and intended to keep the other as a potential show dog.

“Two of these dogs were candidates to be show dogs, and one of them for sure,” Vicente said.

Valer said he had taken the dogs out of his apartment only a few times, and few people knew he owned them.

Valer said whoever stole the puppies can put them in a box and place them outside his apartment on Sylvan Avenue, no questions asked. He urged anyone with information about the dogs to call him at (914) 830-1790.

AP-ES-01-13-07 1252EST