A HAMPSHIRE veterinary practice turned into a maternity ward as staff delivered one of the largest litters ever born in the UK.

An Irish setter called Amelia gave birth to 16 puppies after undergoing a caesarian section at Seadown Veterinary Services in Frost Lane, Hythe.

New Forest Post:

The dog's owner, Judi Frampton, of North Baddesley, said: "Amelia was admitted as an emergency.

"She wasn't due until later that week but it was anticipated she might be having a few more puppies than normal and it was important to avoid any complications."

Louisa Weinfield, the vet who performed the operation, added: "When we saw Amelia we were concerned.

"She had a lot of milk but didn't seem ready to actively push her puppies out. Given that we were also expecting a biggish litter - about ten-12 puppies - the decision was taken to perform a c-section."

During the operation it soon became clear that four-year-old Amelia had far more puppies inside her than first thought.

New Forest Post:

Louisa added: "It was obviously going to be a long surgery so with many pups waiting to be born I had extra nurses at the ready.

"On delivery none of the puppies was breathing. While this is normal it does add to your stress levels, so it was great to have all sections of the Seadown team rushing to help and to watch them gently coaxing each puppy to breathe.

"The majority were a reasonable size but sadly one was so small that it didn't survive.

"With a little persuasion the other 15 pups latched on to Amelia and it was wonderful to see them all happily leave our care with their delighted owner."

New Forest Post:

Judi has kept two of the puppies but the rest have gone to new homes.

She said: "Louisa and all the nurses at Seadown were amazing. They all mucked in and without doubt went the extra mile.

"I will be eternally grateful to them for a remarkable and caring conclusion to something which could have had an entirely different outcome. I can't thank them enough."

Irish setters normally have between eight and 12 puppies although in 2010 one in Germany gave birth to 18.

But the world record for any breed is held by Tia, a Neopolitan mastiff from Cambridgeshire, who had 24 pups in 2004.