A puppy rescued from a man who caused the death of 20 dogs and mistreated 24 more is thriving in his new home with the Gloucestershire police family.

Norbert was one of 44 dogs found malnourished and cramped inside cages in two vans travelling along the M6 on a hot day last year.

On Monday the owner, Patrick Stokes, 25, of Adventure Lane, West Rainton in Durham, pleaded guilty to not ensuring the needs of the puppies in his care and causing the death of 20 of them.

After police stopped the van on August 22, Norbert spent five days in intensive care on the brink of death, but he is now thriving in his “forever home.”

He and the 23 other surviving puppies were rehomed within the Gloucestershire Constabulary policing family and those involved in the rescue effort after an outpouring of offers for suitable homes from officers and staff.

Following the court hearing DCI Claire Nutland said: "These puppies were all in extremely poor health as they were malnourished and sadly a lot of them were not able to be saved after their unnecessary suffering.

"We pursued welfare offences in this case because the conditions in the van were unacceptable and clearly not the right way to transport puppies, which need constant support and care.

"I'd like to again thank the member of the public who called in with their concerns and urge anyone who sees something suspicious such as this to call police immediately.

"A huge thanks must also go to all those who have helped along the way with veterinary care and behaviour training and I'm extremely happy that the other pups are now thriving in their forever homes."

Stokes was sentenced to a 12 month community order, 100 hours of unpaid work and was banned from owning, keeping or transporting animals for two years.

In an interview with police, he tolmd them he had planned to give the puppies to family members and that he was not intending to sell them after the dogs had been transported from Belfast.