A litter of six German Shepherd puppies have been found trembling in a cardboard box on a rural south Armagh road.
Northern Ireland animal welfare charity, the USPCA, has reported several instances of animal abandonment within the first day of reopening following the Christmas holidays.
The first case involved a litter of six-week-old puppies being abandoned at a gateway on the side of a South Armagh country road.
Discovered by a member of the public and brought into the care of the USPCA, the young German Shepherd puppies were found in a cardboard box, trembling in fear and left to fend for themselves.
Colleen Tinnelly, USPCA Development Manager, said: “We are dismayed that despite numerous pleas to the public regarding responsible pet ownership, we are still seeing defenceless young animals being abandoned by a busy and dangerous roadside, only days after Christmas.
“Following examination from our veterinary team, the five abandoned puppies are undergoing treatment – unfortunately one is currently in a critical condition.
“We don’t know how long they were left outside exposed to the wet and windy weather conditions, but we are very grateful to the member of the public for rescuing them from a dire situation.
“We really hope all puppies will be able to make a full recovery, but it is still very early to say.
“We urge the public to think long and hard about their pets – are they neutered? Are you capable of looking after an unexpected litter? If not, we remind them to think as a responsible owner and have their pets neutered – there is absolutely no excuse for leaving young animals to suffer because you haven’t made this conscious decision.”
The Charity has also taken a higher level of calls from members of the public wanting to give up their pet.
Colleen continued “It is well known that that animal shelters across Northern Ireland are at full capacity – we’ve seen many reports of this before Christmas.
“Unfortunately, in the months after Christmas we do brace ourselves for an increase in unwanted animals and we try to accommodate as many as we can. Never have we seen cases like this so quick on the back of Christmas – we’re shocked and very disappointed that it continues to happen. Our advice on responsible pet ownership is clear – an animal is not a toy; it is a lifetime commitment and doesn’t come with a return policy.”