GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. — Two puppies are still clinging to life after an abandoned litter of nine was found near Rifle Friday afternoon.
On Friday around 3 p.m., deputies with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office were called to County Road 244 near Rifle in response to nine puppies that had been abandoned in a wooded area.
A couple who was camping in the area discovered the puppies, which had been left in an open plastic bag, according to the sheriff's office. Two had died by the time the couple discovered them.
Their eyes were still closed and umbilical cords were still attached. A veterinarian later said they were only about 24 hours old and would not have survived the night between the cold air and lack of nourishment, according to the sheriff's office.
A deputy took the puppies to the Divide Creek Animal Shelter in Silt where they were immediately placed in warm towels and under a surgical lamp to bring their body temperatures back to a normal range.
READ MORE: Aurora firefighters rescue box of abandoned puppies found along street
The puppies were fed with a bottle feeder full of formula. Once they were warm and had something in their bellies, they stopped crying and fidgeting and were able to rest.
As of Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., only two of the puppies were still alive. If they continue to show improvement, they will be placed in foster care and may be adoptable down the road, according to the sheriff's office.
Abandoning an animal, no matter if it survives or dies, is a misdemeanor and comes with a minimum fine of $500 with the possibility of six months in jail. Because nine puppies were involved in this case, that charge and fine could apply to each animal, bringing the potential fine to $4,500 or more. Additional charges could include cruelty to animals.
The investigation into who is responsible for leaving the puppies is still active. Anybody with information on this incident is encouraged to call the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office at 970-625-8095.