When he was found dumped by a roadside, his bones breaking through his skin, he was the thinnest dog appalled RSPCA staff had ever seen.
The starving lurcher, named Reuben by those who nursed him back from the brink of death, had weighed less than 17lbs – under half his natural weight – and lost a number of patches of fur.
A hunt is now on for whoever so cruelly neglected him, but the good news is that it has emerged that he was stolen two months ago, and his original owner has been found.
Road to recovery: Reuben the lurcher who was stolen and then abandoned is pictured with Adele Collier at the RSPCA West Malling, Kent
He is now back in his home and being looked after under the supervision of experts. It is hoped he will make a full recovery.
Reuben was found in the village of Hartley, near Sevenoaks in Kent, just under two weeks ago, and rushed to the RSPCA centre nearby at Leybourne.
In that short time he has already put on 7lbs, though is still poorly.
RSPCA manager Christine Dooley said: ‘This is the thinnest dog I’ve ever seen. After two days in our care he weighed just 17.5lbs.
‘The vet has told us that it will cost around £1,000 to treat him.’
RSPCA inspector Jo Barber said: ‘This poor dog was simply abandoned in this dreadful state.
Cruel: Starving Rueben was found dumped in the Kent village of Hartley, near Sevenoaks
‘We would like to hear from anyone who knows who he belonged to and who dumped him.’
Last night an RSPCA spokeswoman said the original owner of Reuben had been traced, after it emerged he had reported the dog stolen in September.
‘Reuben has been reunited with his owner,’ said the spokeswoman.
‘He has gone back home with him, and though he’s still in a quite a poor condition the owner is going to be getting him veterinary care, and we’re going to be doing a follow-up visit
‘The weight loss occurred during the two months he was missing.’
Lurchers were traditionally used for hunting – often by poachers – but enthusiasts say they can make excellent family pets.
Safe: Reuben is now in the caring hands of RSPCA staff