An unexpected package was found on the sidewalk next to Heartsong Spay/Neuter Clinic Thursday morning.
The box contained three newborn puppies just days old. Their cries were heard by a customer walking into the Martinez spay/neuter clinic.
"We couldn't even see that they were outside until someone actually walked inside the building and said, 'Are you aware that there are some puppies outside crying in a box?'" said Loretta Emmons, owner and director of Heartsong Animal Rescue.
After the puppies were taken inside and warmed up, Emmons drove home to pick up puppy milk replacer, she said. When she returned, she bottle-fed the puppies.
"They were very cold," she said. 'We've got them on a heating pad."
Emmons arrived at the clinic about 7 a.m. Thursday. She said she thinks the puppies were dropped off between 9 and 10 a.m.
"They could have been out there for an hour-and-a-half to two hours with nobody knowing it," she said. "They didn't even put them by the front door where we could see them."
Judging from their weight, the puppies appear to have been nursing, said Emmons, adding that their umbilical cords were still attached. The puppies' eyes and ears were still closed.
"This is not the first dropped-off animal that we've had, but this is definitely the youngest and the most in need," she said.
Jennie McCarty, of Martinez, stopped by the clinic after work Thursday to pick up the puppies.
McCarty, who started fostering animals with Heartsong two years ago, recently rescued a young female Labrador mix that is nursing her own six puppies.
Both Emmons and McCarty hope the female dog will accept the abandoned puppies as her own.
"I'm anxious to see how this is going to go, but I'm always optimistic," McCarty said. "I feel like she'll take them. She's a good mom. They look just like hers."
McCarty will place all the puppies together in one area, Emmons said, allowing their scents to blend.
"Hopefully, if we get the scent of her puppies on them, she'll just assume that they were hiding somewhere," Emmons said.
If the nursing dog rejects the puppies, Emmons will take them back to her home.
"They'll go to my house and be beside my bed, and I'll wake up every two hours and feed them," she said.
Though it doesn't occur often, abandoned animals also have been left outside Columbia County Animal Care and Control, said supervisor Joseph Guerin.
The puppies, two female and one male, taken in by Heartsong are black in coloring and believed to be a Labrador mix. They will be available for adoption at 8 weeks old. Emmons said each will be de-wormed and receive vaccinations.
"It's heart-wrenching to know that people can be that heartless and not have any compassion at all for the life of these animals," Emmons said. "We work so hard to rescue, save and do what we can to take them out of harm's way."
For information on adoption, contact Heartsong at (706) 855-1241, or visit www.heartsonganimalrescue.com.
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