The discovery of a dog and its pups abandoned without shade or water in Kaikorai Valley, Dunedin, recently has created a mystery the SPCA would like to solve.
The dogs, a collie cross and its two 4-week-old pups, were discovered by a squash player who contacted authorities concerned about their welfare.
The player first saw the animals about 10.30am on Sunday, December 2, and they were still there about 4pm when the player came back to check on them.
SPCA Otago chief inspector Virginia Pine said the dogs were in good condition and were left in an ''extremely visual'' place near the courts and bowling centre.
''Unless something untoward has happened to the owner, it's almost as though they have tied them up there in the hope they would be found."
Leaving a lactating bitch for that long without food and water compromised their welfare, she said.
''They usually need three times the amount of food a dog normally would have."
It was concerning that there were only two pups with the bitch as given her size she could have had more, she said.
The SPCA was keen for anyone with any information about the dogs to contact them and also wanted to find the owner, who could face charges under the Animal Welfare Act for deserting the animals without water and shelter. The charge carries a sentence of up to 12 months in prison or a $50,000 fine, or a combination of both.
''People have options. They do not have to tie them up like that. They should have talked to us."
Once the pups were weaned, the dogs would probably be re-homed.