POLICE and RSPCA officers have launched an urgent investigation after three puppies were poisoned in an apparently motiveless attack.

Officers were called in after the Parson Jack Russell Terrier pups fell critically ill less than 10 minutes after being handled by a man who had expressed an interest in buying them.

Despite emergency treatment, two of the 12-week-old puppies died the following day, with only one managing to pull through.

The veterinary practice which treated the puppies told owners Emma and Andy Gunbie that it suspected foul play and an investigation is now under way to determine whether the puppies were deliberately poisoned.

The Gunbie's said they were left heartbroken by the incident, which has made them wary of selling puppies in the future.

Emma, 31, said that family dog Lola had given birth to nine puppies back in October and that six of them had been found new homes.

The remaining three were advertised for sale online and a man, who said he was from Essex, had asked if he could come and see the puppies at the family home at Ely Road, in Littleport, on January 14.

Emma said: "The man came out to see them on Saturday, he seemed ok, he wasn't overly chatty but he didn't seem unpleasant, though Lola immediately had her heckles up when she saw him which is very out of character.

"He picked them up to look at them and put his finger in their mouths to check them over, he said he would be in touch with us and then left. About 10 minutes after he left the three puppies become very ill

"The puppies started to vomit and we could see they were in a lot of pain so we rushed them to the vet. They said that they were sure that the puppies had been poisoned."

The puppies were given emergency treated at the Isle Veterinary Group in Ely but only one survived, Molly, who has now been kept by the Gunbies.

A police spokesman said: "We have received a report of several puppies being poisoned at an address in Littleport. "The investigation is at a very early stage and we are working with the RSPCA to establish what has happened."

An RSPCA spokesman added "We have been made aware of the incident and we are looking in to it. If anyone has any information regarding this - we would urge them to call the RSPCA cruelty line on 0300 1234 999."