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Twenty-two small puppies were found alongside the Waimakariri River, cold and starving.
It is the second dumping of pets in the area in recent weeks, following a disabled kunekune being left to die on the side of the road in West Melton last month.
Christchurch SPCA foster and volunteer team leader Jaz Crowther said when the call came in from a woman saying she had found 22 puppies running around alongside the river, staff could scarcely believe it.
"Maybe there’s only like five, and they are just running really fast," Crowther said when describing their thoughts.
Crowther said the woman had been able to gather them all up, and SPCA staff ended up meeting her on the road half way.
The precise location of the dumping could not be confirmed as the finder herself had not known exactly where it was.
Crowther said after getting their canine load back to headquarters, staff triaged six as needing urgent veterinary care.
The remaining 16 could go straight to quarantine for weighing and flea and worm treatment.
Apart from the critically ill ones at the vet that required syringe feeding, the remainder “woofed down” their first meal.
Following tradition, staff set out to name the puppies according to a theme. They were helped along in this regard by a plethora of characters in the Harry Potter books.
The puppies’ names are Bellatrix, Plimpy, Remus, Gilderoy, Niffler, Myrtle, Norbert, Hedwig, Fleur, Tonks, Peeves, Hagrid, Pygmy Puff, Fang, Dobby, Sybil, Nymphadora, Harpy, Pansy, Newt, Griffin and Sirius.
Sadly one of the six that had required urgent care, Sirius, could not be saved.
The remaining 21, by now dubbed the Potter Puppies, were all fostered out between 10 homes the following day.
"We are very lucky that so many foster parents put their hands up. We are a bit depleted now though," Crowther said.
Crowther said it had been a "logistical feat" to get all the supplies ready to go with each puppy as they went to their foster homes.
"I need to find 21 collars and leads next."
A Potter Puppies play date was planned for this week, where the 21 would be able to run around once again together, just like they had been doing alongside the river that day. Except this time they would be much healthier and happier.
Crowther said the puppies had been about five to six-weeks-old when found on June 21.
It was good to see them thriving with plenty of warmth and food at their foster homes. Their weights on arrival to the SPCA had been just 700g to 1.8kg.
"Their wee sunk in faces are looking a bit more rounded out. Considering how sickly they all were when they came in, the fact that we only lost one is a miracle."
However, it was hard to tell and they could even be from more than two litters.
While the SPCA is no stranger to animals being left for dead, a spokesperson said this was the highest number of animals in a single dumping in the Canterbury region for at least about 10 years.
Crowther said the incident served as a reminder for people to get their animals desexed.
Meanwhile, the SPCA is continuing to investigate the dumping of the kunekune on June 17.
The pig could not walk and was left by the side of the road with bedding and food. Locals came to the scene and transported it to the SPCA, where it sadly had to be euthanised the following day, believed to be due to its severe arthritis.
- If you have information on the dumping of the kunekune or puppies, phone the Christchurch SPCA on 03 349 7057.