Eight years after being taken from the front garden of her home, Sussex Police have helped return Cassie the cocker-spaniel back to her rightful home.

Officers from the Sussex Police Rural Crime Team captured the moment Cassie and her owners were reunited.

They conducted a number of raids in November looking for a stolen dog along with the RSPCA and Trading Standards following a tip off from a member of the public.

Cassie was safely located along with some puppies who are thought to be hers.

A spokesperson for the family said: “We are so thankful to have our Cassie back home, after 8 years since being separated from her. Cassie has settled in very well and is enjoying her daily dog walks.”

“As for the three puppies, they have all gone to good homes and are loving their new set family life.”

“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. Finally, we would like to thank the Police and everyone involved in helping us retain Cassie and her puppies back to us”

Sussex Police Rural Crime Team Inspector Oliver Fisher said: “As is often the case, it was useful information from the public that assisted us and we are grateful to them as ever for coming forward.”

“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.”

“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. “

The pandemic has seen a rise in people owning pets as a companion, however this has unfortunately seen a rise in criminals stealing animals to sell on or breed.

Insp Fisher added: “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.”

“If you have concerns about the welfare of the dogs please inform the RSPCA. Should you have any information relating to a stolen dog, please contact us on 101.”

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 demand for pets has surged in recent years, particularly during lockdown and, as such, it appears that pet theft has become rife. Therefore we’d urge owners to take some simple steps to help keep their dogs safe:

  • Get your pet microchipped and keep your details up-to-date;
  • Get your pet neutered to make them less desirable for breeding;
  • Ensure your home and garden is secure with gates locked;
  • Never leave your pet alone in a parked car or tied up outside a shop;
  • Teach your pet a reliable recall and ensure they do not stray too far when walking off-lead.

“If you believe your pet may have been stolen please alert the police as soon as possible.”

After nervously being reacquainted with her family home, Cassie and her puppies are now living happily in their forever homes.