Sussex

Left-to-die Uckfield puppies reunited at RSPCA Patcham

Seven puppies who were left to die in suitcases have been taken to a reunion at an RSPCA centre in Brighton.

They were among 15 animals found in two suitcases in a cupboard in dog breeder Amanda Cheadle's house in Uckfield, Sussex, in 2008. Eight of them died.

Cheadle was jailed for 20 weeks in 2009 after being convicted of causing unnecessary suffering and neglect.

At the time, RSPCA Inspector Rachel Bell said it was one of the most harrowing cases she had dealt with.

'Horrific sight'

The seven Collie puppies were all taken to the RSPCA shelter in Patcham to be reunited with each other and their two mothers who were also found in Cheadle's house.

All the dogs have new owners, with the last one rehomed in January 2010, but all have been left nervous.

Retired police sergeant Dave Price, who dealt with the incident and also attended the reunion, said: "It was a horrific sight when we opened the first case.

Image caption The seven puppies recovered and were found new homes

"If we had been a couple of hours later, it might have been a very different outcome."

Ms Bell, who found the puppies in 2008, said: "The owners have done a brilliant job. They took on a daunting task but they have done really well."

Julie Oakley, owner of one of the puppies, said: "I am glad that some people out there have hearts and have rehomed the dogs."

And Neil Townsend, who with his wife Sue rehomed the two older dogs, Beth and Flo, said: "At first Flo, would start at every noise. She would jump if you sneezed.

"Gradually, she has got more comfortable with us and become less nervous, but she still dislikes traffic."

During the trial, the court heard the RSPCA had already taken dogs away from Cheadle and it was during a later visit that the sound of whining led officers to the suitcases.

Some of the puppies had already died of starvation, dehydration and suffocation.

Magistrates heard Cheadle had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act around the time the offences took place.

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