FIVE puppies are being treated by vets after being dumped in a Sheffield park by a "cruel" pet owner.
The Staffordshire cross puppies, four females and one male, are aged around 12 to 14 weeks, and were discovered running loose in Middlewood Park by a dog walker.
Steve Byrne, manager of the RSPCA animal centre in Attercliffe where the dogs were taken, said the puppies are extremely thin and malnourished - adding the centre is at "bursting point" after taking in a large number of abandoned animals over Christmas.
Steve said: "They're extremely thin with quite a worm burden in their bellies.
"They've got bald patches, with potential mange and skin problems. Apart from that they're full of beans, they're all over the place."
Steve added the puppies have been named after characters from Oliver Twist - Agnes, Rose, Nancy, Charlotte and Oliver.
He said: "There was a comment made when they were found that they had seen somebody in a white van driving off, so they may only literally have just been dumped when they were found.
"If it had been 10 or 15 minutes later, all five could have gone anywhere in the local community. Fortunately a member of the public managed to round them up."
Steve said it will be "a couple of weeks" before the animal centre considers rehoming the puppies, which were found on Monday night.
He said: "It all depends on the veterinary treatment. We really need to feed them up, they're really malnourished, you can see all their ribs. It looks like all five have not been fed very well.
"They've been isolated because of their problems and because they're so unhealthy."
He said RSPCA inspectors are also concerned for the welfare of the puppies' mother.
He said: "Obviously we're concerned because there's an unneutered female dog that's just had puppies taken off her.
"Whoever has been cruel enough to dump these poor little puppies also has a nursing bitch. They really should have had her spayed."
Steve said animals are often dumped by irresponsible pet owners.
"They are not taking the steps to approach charities and organisations who take in animals. We're at bursting point at this time of year. It's been one of the worst Christmases ever, there have been more animals abandoned this year than in previous years."
Anyone with information about the abandoned dogs should call the RSPCA's 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234999 and ask to leave a message for Inspector Tamsin Drysdale.
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