Two newborn pit bull pups abandoned in trash bags in a Tacoma alley alongside their mother and nine siblings showed signs of improvement Friday.
A veterinarian who examined the puppies — named Pacific and Belle — said they were dehydrated but taking formula and moving around.
“They’re holding their own,” said Kathleen Olson, executive director at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County. “Time will tell.”
The animals were found Thursday by a man out on his daily walk who spotted what appeared to be fur in two clear plastic garbage bags. He called 911 and Kate Madden, an animal control officer, responded.
Madden first saw the 1-year-old mother, who had been double-bagged. The dog was dead, but Madden checked for a heartbeat to make sure.
As she leaned over a second double-bagged plastic bag, “I heard the bag make noise, just a little squeak,” she said.
She ripped open the bag and found 11 tan newborn puppies. The one on top moved just slightly, so Madden picked it up and began rubbing the dog’s fur.
“It was like picking up an ice cube,” the officer said.
Madden and a police officer checked the other puppies and found one pup near the top of the pile that also survived.
They rubbed the survivors’ fur in hopes of warming them up and then put the pit bulls in Madden’s heated van before taking them to the Humane Society.
Employees at the shelter placed the two female puppies on a warming pad to raise their body temperature, which was 10 degrees lower than the 100-degree average.
An hour of warming pads, blankets, massages and warm blowing air returned the dogs to normal temperatures, Olson said.
The puppies each weigh less than 1 pound and have been placed with a foster family who is caring for them.
The pit bulls must be fed every two hours and still are at risk, animal experts said.
“They’re not out of the woods, but they’re both doing very well,” Madden said. “They’re doing everything a puppy should.”
The puppies will not be up for adoption until they are at least 8 weeks old so they can be vaccinated, neutered and microchipped.
Police are trying to figure out who dumped the dogs in the alley.
The mother dog likely died from complications of having the litter and someone threw the puppies out with her, spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.
The puppies are about 3 days old.
It’s unclear how long they were left in the alley but officials believe it was only a few hours before the man discovered them.
The mama dog was tan with a white stripe down her neck and a white patch by her shoulder. She was small, weighing 35 to 40 pounds.
The litter likely was her first.
Anyone with information about the dogs is asked to call Cool at 253-591-5968.