Nicola Bulley's dog may have been found near a bench as it is the last place he saw her, an expert has claimed. The 45-year-old was last spotted walking her springer spaniel Willow in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire. But the dog was found without his harness darting between the bench and the river. When questioned why Willow did not run off, dog trainer and expert Jo Sellers said dogs will often return to where they last saw their owner and where the "strongest scent" would be even if Nicola had "left the area".

Speaking to, Ms Sellers said: "If they run off, then in nearly all cases they can trace back to where we last saw them as that is the spot of the strongest scent, even if the owner has left the area.

"They can follow where they have been using their scent traces left behind, then when they can pick up their human's scent, they can follow it back to the main source.

"This is often where they last saw their human and where we probably stood still for a while creating a large 'pool' of scent."

Willow appeared "bone dry" when she was spotted close to where Nicola went missing.

Analysis of flight paths by has revealed that multiple private planes have taken to the air in an effort to help find missing mum-of-two Nicola Bulley.

At least five planes in the last two hours can be seen circling the river where she disappeared, as well as where it meets the ocean.

The search for the mother-of-two has entered its 12th day as a team of private underwater search experts joined the effort but cast doubt over Lancashire Police's current working hypothesis Ms Bulley had fallen into the river.

Superintendent Sally Riley said it was "possible" that an "issue" with Ms Bulley's dog may have led her to the water's edge but admitted today that she "could have left the area with someone".

Commenting on the case, Ms Sellers added that the dog may have "ran off for a while" and returned".

She said: "In this case, I can only speculate that the dog Willow stayed in that area as that is the area of strongest scent for her owner, rather than run off in any direction where there is no scent trail.

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"If she was really spooked, then she may have run off for a while but she would have returned eventually.

"If she was there all along, then the dog was not scared away by anything.

"But that does not mean something or nothing did happen, it is just that the dog was not spooked away from the scene at the time."

Chief executive of Specialist Group Internation Peter Faulding said he is "very surprised" that she has not been found in river searches.

Mr Faulding told the BBC there is not enough of a current in the River Wyre for Ms Bulley to have been moved downstream on the day she went missing.

Police have urged the public to stop breaking into empty or derelict properties by the river and taking the law into their own hands.

Supt Riley also urged the public to avoid "distressing" speculation about what might have happened to Ms Bulley.

She added: "We would ask that people in the wider community, particularly on social media and online, do not speculate as to what may have happened to Nicola."

2023-02-08T14:02:36Z dg43tfdfdgfd