A dog owner was “devastated” after thieves broke into a kennel and stole his cocker spaniel Dora and her five puppies.

The two-year-old pet and her three-week-old pups were taken from Craig Vaughan’s farm outside Yarm, Teesside, on Tuesday, and he feared they might die without the correct care.

He had screwed the door shut while he went out to milk cows but the thieves unfastened it to steal the dogs, which have been raised outside with the benefit of warmth from heat lamps.

Mr Vaughan had sold four of the cocker spaniel puppies, which can fetch for £750 each, but he said he was not bothered about the money. He was going to give the remaining puppy to his son for Christmas.

He feared for the welfare of the dogs, which had only just begun to be weaned and had taken their first goat’s milk on the morning they were taken.

“My biggest worry is that these people cannot sell them and they will throw them in a ditch,” he said.

The puppies’ tails have been legally docked by a vet and Mr Vaughan has the correct paperwork – which the thieves do not – so he asked people buying a cocker spaniel puppy to be alert.

He appealed to the thieves saying: “I just want my dog and puppies back, leave them in a safe place and I will come and pick them up.”

Dora, who is friendly, has a white chest with a faint white line on the side of her head and curly fur on top of her head.