Police are hunting a woman who dumped a bag of newborn puppies on a rubbish pile, leaving them to die in searing heat.
Rescuers said the seven puppies may not have survived had a passer-by not spotted them and raised the alarm.
Authorities in California called her actions “despicable”, and internet users branded the woman “evil, cruel and heartless” after CCTV footage of her abandoning the baby animals was circulated online.
Footage shows the young woman, dressed in a strappy black top, stopping her Jeep beside rubbish containers in the city of Coachella.
The woman first lifts one container lid, wondering whether to drop the bag of puppies in, then appears to change her mind, instead tossing them onto the open waste pile of the other container.
She then turns away and drives off.
A passer-by later found the plastic bag containing the three-day-old animals, thought to be terrier mixes.
It happened at the same time as Coachella’s annual music festival, which ended yesterday, was taking place.
“If not for the good samaritan’s actions, the puppies may not have survived much longer,” Riverside County Animal Services said. “Midday temperatures in Coachella on Thursday were in the mid-90s range.”
The team that took the puppies in found a rescue group to bottle-feed them.
Commander Chris Mayer, of animal services, said what the woman did was despicable, and the passer-by’s actions were actions were “humane and heroic”.
The woman is being sought on suspicion of animal cruelty.
“There is no excuse for dumping puppies,” Mr Mayer said. “Especially in today’s age when we or other shelters would be willing to get these animals to foster parents or rescue partners.”
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