COWERING and emaciated, with big brown eyes lowered in submission, it was difficult to imagine how anybody could abandon these two puppies.

But just hours after these pictures were taken, and following one of the “worst cases of neglect” one vet had ever seen, both dogs were dead.

Now a hunt has been launched to find the owner of the dogs and discover why they were dumped.

Found abandoned in a garden in Kings Worthy, one of the Lurcher puppies was unable even to walk, while the other was showing worrying signs of illness.

Daily Echo: Puppies die after one of 'worst cases of neglect'

Both were rushed to the vet where the first puppy, a fawn-coloured male, collapsed on arrival. He was so sick he had to be destroyed immediately.

The other, also male, with tan-and-white fur and a black vinyl collar with bones on it, was monitored for a few hours but rapidly got worse and had to be put to sleep.

Officers think the puppies wandered into the open garden overnight, seeking shelter in a compost heap. It is feared they may have been out for several days before they were found.

Marjorie Pooley, a lifelong animal welfare campaigner from Winchester, said the economic crisis may have played a part.

“It’s happening more at the moment because dogs are expensive to keep. Maybe the owner could not afford the vets’ bills so they just chucked them out.

“Although we claim to be an animal loving nation, animals are being abandoned. It’s a very sad case and I cannot imagine why somebody would abandon them.”

Emily Bowen, the council’s animal welfare officer, said: “We take cases of animal neglect very seriously in the Winchester District and we would welcome any information from the public that helps us to trace the owner of these Lurcher puppies.

“We were very sorry not to be able to save these two puppies, which suffered so horribly.”

Anyone with information can contact Emily Bowen in confidence on or by calling 01962 848456.