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Watch: Beloved dog Cassie reunited with family after being stolen eight years ago
7 January 2022, 10:37 | Updated: 7 January 2022, 11:09
A beloved family dog who was stolen from her front garden eight years ago has been found and reunited with her owners.
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Cassie, a brown cocker spaniel, was returned to her family after being found by Sussex Police.
She was discovered safe and well with three puppies who are believed to be hers.
Cassie was found after a number of raids by police, Trading Standards and the RSPCA, initiated by a tip-off from a member of the public.
A spokesperson for Cassie's family said: "We are so thankful to have our Cassie back home, after eight years since being separated from her.
"Cassie has settled in very well and is enjoying her daily dog walks.
"It's a priceless Christmas present to us as a family and we want this to bring hope to others who have had their dog lost or stolen."
The three puppies have been given good homes and are said to be "loving" their new family life.
Cassie's family also thanked the police and everyone involved in the operation.
Sussex Police released emotional video footage of the moment Cassie was reunited with her family.
The owners can be heard crying as they see her for the first time in eight years.
Sussex Police Rural Crime Team Inspector Oliver Fisher said: "Dogs can go missing on occasion, but it is extremely rare for dogs to be stolen. I would like to reassure the many thousands of dog owners in the county that with simple precautions, you need not fear this crime.
"I would encourage all dog owners to microchip their dogs, keep an up to date photo of the dog, and in the event that it goes missing, inform the microchip company and supply the police with a photo."
Inspector Fisher added the force recognises the impact that a stolen pet can have on its family.
He said: "The inflated prices of puppies has resulted in unscrupulous individuals breeding dogs purely for profit.
"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."
An RSPCA spokesperson said: "We assisted police officers as they executed warrants following information related to a stolen dog and were pleased to recover Cassie - and three puppies - and return her to her owners who were absolutely thrilled to have her home after so many years."
The RSPCA recommends pet owners microchip their pet and ensure their contact details are kept up to date.
It also suggests ensuring homes and gardens are kept locked and secure.
If members of the public have concerns about a dog's welfare, they should contact the RSPCA. If they have any knowledge relating to stolen dogs, they should contact police on 101.