INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Volunteers are working around the clock to nurse six newborn puppies that were thrown away in the trash mere hours after being born.
A man found a box of 10 puppies in a Dumpster near a South Lake Tahoe gas station at about 2:30 p.m. on July 23, said Becky Goodman, executive director of the Pet Network Humane Society.
After several phone calls, he connected with Pet Network and immediately drove the puppies to the Incline Village nonprofit animal shelter.
The animals arrived at about 5:30 p.m., and staff and volunteers worked into the night to feed them formula and keep them warm, Goodman said.
While four of them eventually died — the animals were barely three hours old when found — the Pet Network crew worked frantically to search for foster homes for the six survivors.
“Puppies that small, without a mother to care for them, they have absolutely no immune system, so the shelter is the worst place they can be,” Goodman said Thursday. “It was an absolute emergency — ‘we need help right now,’ we told everyone.”
That evening, three Pet Network board members and another Incline resident stepped up to foster four puppies, Goodman said, while a South Tahoe resident took in the other two.
Pet Network staff is unsure of the breed of the dogs, which have been dubbed the “Dumpster Babies” by staff and the community.
“We’re calling them ‘domestic shorthair cuties,’” Goodman said. “They’re only nine days old, so it’s really difficult to tell what mix they are — even our vet is a little stunned right now.”
Volunteers will continue to work 24/7 for the next three weeks or so to nurse the puppies, after which they should be well enough to eat on their own.
“It is going to cost thousands of dollars per animal by the time these guys are old enough to adopt out,” said Goodman. “They’re going to need extensive care.”
Medical expenses for the puppies include vaccination shots, feeding formula, plasma to build their immune systems, special heaters to regulate body temperature and other items, all funded by the Pet Network.
The hope is all six animals will be adopted, Goodman said.
“It was quite a task, but was well worth it,” said Incline resident Madylon Meiling, a member of the Pet Network board of directors.
Goodman and Meiling said the entire Pet Network community can’t thank the man who saved the animals’ lives enough.
“He’s a hero … it takes people like him and our fosters who take the time and effort to let organizations like ours know when animals are in trouble,” she said. “Without his intervention, these puppies would be dead.”
According to California’s animal cruelty laws, leaving puppies for dead in a Dumpster can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.
Punishment can include prison time and/or a fine of up to $20,000 for the felony, and jail time of less than one year and/or a fine of up to $20,000 for the lesser charge.