A GRAVELY ill puppy has died after it was found abandoned in a bush in Sale.

The RSPCA launched an investigation after the critically ill Golden Retriever puppy was discovered in a grassy area, known as ‘The Green Field’, in Brooklands on Monday.

Dog walkers stumbled across the puppy, which was hidden from view in a hedge. They said the puppy looked extremely sick, weak and was barely breathing.

Cradling the puppy in their arms, the couple rushed to the nearest vets for help, but the puppy died shortly after arriving at the practice.

The vets said the cream-coloured puppy appeared around 12-weeks-old and was a Golden Retriever-type breed.

RSPCA animal welfare officer (AWO) Steve Wickham is now investigating the case.

He said: “I’m appealing to anyone with information about where this poor puppy came from to come forward.

“To dump any animal is cruel, but to dump a dying puppy is heartless and completely shocking.

“We suspect the puppy was suffering with parvovirus, a highly contagious viral disease with a high mortality rate among untreated dogs - so there may be other puppies from the same litter at risk too.

"It can be prevented through regular vaccination, but I’m afraid we often see the disease in dogs from puppy farms, and I am concerned that this puppy may have been dumped by rogue breeders or by new owners who bought him, before realising he was infected with the deadly disease.

“I am urging anyone with any information to call us and speak with me. They can do so in complete confidence by calling our inspector’s appeal line number on 0300 123 8018.

"Only with the help of the public giving us information can we investigate cruelty like this and try and prevent this sort of terrible thing happening again.”

The RSPCA has campaigned for laws to bring an end to the puppy trade, with over 100,000 people signing the charity’s petition for action to be taken by the UK Government.

The petition led to the government announcing that it will introduce a new licensing scheme for anyone breeding or selling more than three litters of puppies a year, and banning the sale of puppies younger than eight weeks old.

The RSPCA are confident that if the standards are high enough, and properly enforced, this should help those wanting to buy a puppy to distinguish between a reputable and a rogue breeder or seller.

The charity is continuing to work with the government to ensure the licensing conditions are set at a high standard and will lobby for a ban on the selling of puppies by someone other than the person who bred them.

The RSPCA offers lots of advice on how to avoid buying a puppy from a cruel puppy farm, and even offers a downloadable puppy contract for people to use when buying a puppy.

Anyone wishing to report cruelty or neglect to animals can call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999.