STOKES COUNTY, N.C. -- Thirty puppies have found temporary homes with the Stokes County Humane Society since Christmas and volunteers say it's part of a disturbing trend of abandoning animals that gets worse just after the holidays.
The shelter rescued 5-week-old Epic and Scenic Wednesday morning.
“They were actually dropped off today. Their owner surrendered them," said Kelsey Widener, a humane society volunteer.
Volunteers say factors like backyard breeding and giving puppies as unwanted gifts are making the problem worse.
“Unfortunately Christmas is one of the times of year where most animals are abandoned, because they’re given as gifts or presents, or you have more people breeding animals to sell them during this time of year," Widener said.
In the past week, volunteers found a nursing mother inside a dumpster somewhere in Stokes County. She had chewed her way inside a mattress in the dumpster to keep her puppies warm.
“It’s very common in that area, because the shelter is so full that people will throw them in the ditch, they’ll leave them in a box outside the store," Widener said.
Someone else found three puppies stuffed into a box. They were just hours old, with their umbilical cords still attached. They're now staying with a foster family, still drinking out of bottles.
“People are just dumping them everywhere," said Jill Burgess, another humane society volunteer.
More than 20 calls have come in to the humane society reporting abandoned puppies in just the past two days. Volunteers say this problem only gets worse after the new year.
Abandoning animals outside can be lethal. Widener wasn't Epic and Scenic would make it through the day.
Veterinarians at the Animal Health and Wellness Hospital gave them fluids through an IV and got them to eat.
“Then they started to pep up and kind of act like this," Widener said.
But dangerously low temperatures this month mean lots of animals won't be so lucky.
“It makes me feel sad for the dog, because the dog didn’t ask for it," Widener said. "The dog doesn’t have any clue. It’s so cold outside that there’s dogs that don’t make it.”
“Oh we’re infuriated. It’s so hard to deal with, but our whole concept is, we just try to save as many animals as we can," Burgess said. "That’s what we’re here for.”
If you find an abandoned animal, especially on a cold night, Widener says, please don't leave it there. If you can't take the animal to a veterinarian of shelter yourself, call your local humane society or animal control.
Right now, those 30 puppies are recovering at foster homes across the Triad. The Stokes County Humane Society doesn't have a shelter and runs entirely off a network of foster families.
With more animals expected to come in this month, volunteers say they desperately need donations.
They're asking for high-protein puppy food, laundry detergent, canned puppy food, pee pads, paper towels and blankets. You can drop those supplies off to the Animal Health and Wellness Hospital in Rural Hall.