In a video shared to Twitter by Sussex Police, the family appeared overcome with joy at the reunion.
“She’s probably not the Cassie you remember when she was teeny tiny,” a police officer said.
However, Cassie wasn’t found alone and was also accompanied by three puppies that are thought to be hers: two boys and a girl.
In the footage, her owner can be heard saying that the puppies resemble how Cassie looked when she was little.
The family said that Cassie has already settled back in to her former home and is enjoying her daily dog walks, and that her puppies have been rehomed.
“We are so thankful to have our Cassie back home, after eight years since being separated from her,” they said.
“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.”
While Sussex Police said it is “extremely rare” for dogs to be stolen, an increased demand for pets during the pandemic has seen a rise in criminals stealing animals to sell on or breed.
Although most dog owners should not fear this happening to them, they should take “simple precautions” to keep their pets safe.
“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,” Oliver Fisher, Sussex Police rural crime team inspector said.
Additionally, the RSPCA advises considering having your dog neutered as to make them less desirable for breeding.
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, an additional 3.2 million UK households have bought a pet since the start of the pandemic.
Prospective buyers should also “think carefully about who they buy from”, Fisher said.
This includes asking to see the condition of the home where puppies and mothers are kept, and looking for signs that the mother is healthy.
“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,” Fisher added.
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