A litter of puppies left to freeze to death in Sheffield woodland just hours after being born are making good progress in their new homes.
The two male and three female puppies still had their umbilical cords attached when they were dumped in Beeley Woods near Middlewood.
The pups thought to be French bull dog and Shih tzu types were found by a walker and rushed to the vets for treatment before being put in the care of the RSPCA.
As they were so young to be away from their mum they had to be hand-reared - and RSPCA staff and volunteers were quick to help out by each fostering a pup.
RSPCA Deputy chief inspector Sara Jordan, took one of the puppies to hand-rear, who she named Otter.
His three sisters, Lily, Bea and Clover were cared for by volunteers but Clover died from a virus.
Their other brother Lenni also contracted the same virus but he survived against the odds.
This week Lenni and brother Otter, who was 16 weeks-old, met up with each other for the first time since being fostered when they visited for a veterinary check up.
Otter's new owner Tom Buckley, who is a hub manager at the RSPCA call centre in Wath-on-Dearne said: "When I heard about Otter’s plight I was keen to offer him a home it really is a miracle the pups survived."
Ella Wright who adopted Lenni said: “I was told about Lenni and what had happened and was more than happy to adopt him - he is such a lovely pup.
I am very grateful for all the hard work the RSPCA have done to help this litter - they could have so easily died - but look how happy and strong they look now."
An investigation has been launched to find the person responsible for abandoning the puppies but so far they have not been traced.
DCI Sara Jordan added:“ There is always a big risk when hand-rearing puppies but without a mum we were left with no choice and their immune system was compromised without their mum’s antibodies from her milk .
“Times are tough at the moment and we understand that many families are struggling to cope, particularly given the rising cost of living, and we fear that we’ll see many, many more pets being relinquished to charities or abandoned because their owners simply don’t know where to turn.
“But abandoning tiny puppies like this is so irresponsible and cruel. Please, please never abandon your pet but ask for help before things get so desperate.”
The RSPCA’s most recent figures show that to October 2022, RSPCA rescuers dealt with 13,159 incidents of abandonment. This has risen from 10,519 for the same time period the previous year.
The incidents of neglect being dealt with by teams has also risen, with 30,500 by the end of October 2022, compared to 27,521 over the same period in 2021.
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