A stolen dog has been reunited with her family – eight years after she was taken from the front garden.
Moving footage from Sussex Police captured the moment that Cassie saw her owners for the first time since 2013.
The cocker spaniel wasn’t alone, and was accompanied by three puppies that are believed to be hers.
Cassie’s family had been warned that she may be a different dog to the one they remember, but she is now thriving in her rightful home.
Her family said: “We are so thankful to have our Cassie back home – eight years since being separated from her. Cassie has settled in very well and is enjoying her daily dog walks.
“As for three puppies, they have all gone to good homes and are loving their new set family life.”
With the help of the RSPCA, officers found Cassie safe and well following a series of raids in November – sparked by a tip-off from a member of the public.
Cassie’s family described her return as a “priceless Christmas present” – adding that it gives hope to others who have had their dogs lost or stolen.
Simple precautions for pet owners to take
According to Sussex Police, it is “extremely rare” for dogs to be stolen, and “simple precautions” can help keep pets safe.
Families are encouraged to microchip their dogs and keep an up-to-date photo that can be shared if their furry friend goes missing.
The microchip company and the police should also be informed.
Sussex Police Rural Crime Team Inspector Oliver Fisher said: “We recognise the impact a stolen pet can have on a family, which is why part of the team’s remit is to investigate stolen dogs.
“In recent months, we have recovered stolen dogs and also assisted the RSPCA in seizing puppies being kept in appalling conditions in puppy farms.”
Pet theft becomes ‘rife’ during pandemic
There has been a surge in Britons owning pets as a companion during the coronavirus pandemic, but Sussex Police says this has led to a rise in criminals stealing animals to sell on or breed.
Insp Fisher added: “I would urge anyone considering buying a puppy to think carefully about who they buy from. Insist on seeing the home where the puppies and mother are kept.
“Does the mother look healthy? Are the conditions acceptable? Prospective buyers who turn a blind eye to irresponsible breeders not only perpetuate the suffering of animals but risk buying a puppy with significant health issues, which can be costly to treat and sometimes fatal.”
The RSPCA said the theft of pets has become “rife” but getting them neutered can make them less desirable for breeding – and owners should ensure their home and garden is secure with gates locked.