The litter of 11 newborn pups was found by passersby who were walking through a wooded area off Heath Lane, Huddersfield, on Monday, June 20, when they spotted a rubbish bag and went to investigate.
RSPCA deputy chief inspector Sara Jordan, who is now investigating, said: “It’s so lucky that there were people passing who went to look inside this bag because the puppies were only hours old and were extremely vulnerable.
“They had been dumped in the woodland, in a bag, and all still had their umbilical cords attached.
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“The finders rushed them to a local vet who checked them all over and estimated that they were just a few hours old.
"Sadly, one of the puppies was struggling to breathe and was very sick so they made the difficult decision to put her to sleep.
“The veterinary clinic called us and asked for help as they didn’t have the facilities or the expertise to hand-rear the remaining 10 pups.”
The RSPCA is now investigating to find out who is responsible for abandoning the puppies.
Sara added: “I’m really concerned that there’s a bitch somewhere who has just given birth to these puppies and could require veterinary attention.
“I’m also keen to hear from anyone who may know who is responsible for abandoning these puppies in such an irresponsible way.
"They were so young and vulnerable, more of them could have easily died.
“Times are tough at the moment and we understand that many families are struggling to cope, particularly given the rising cost of living, and we fear that we’ll see many, many more pets being relinquished to charities or abandoned because their owners simply don’t know where to turn.
“But abandoning tiny puppies like this is so irresponsible and cruel.
"Please, please never abandon your pet but ask for help before things get so desperate.”
RSPCA staff are now providing the puppies, who should be with their mothers until at least eight-weeks-old, with round-the-clock care.
Sara has taken one of the puppies on while the others have been fostered by experienced staff and experts, including a veterinary nurse and staff from RSPCA Doncaster, Rotherham and District branch.
She said: “The puppies will need to be hand-reared and require very intense care as they’re completely reliant on us, as they would be their mother.
“I’m caring for a little girl called Tippy who needs feeding every 90 minutes. I have to take her everywhere with me and keep a very close eye on her.
“Hand-rearing is incredibly difficult and, sadly, we’ve lost four - some due to infection and some due to congenital problems - but thankfully the remaining six are now doing really well and get stronger and stronger every day.”
The puppies will remain with their fosterers until they’re old enough to begin their searches for new homes.
Staff are not yet sure what breed they are but believe they could be German shepherd types.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area at the time or who knows a dog who recently gave birth but does not have a litter to nurse should contact the RSPCA’s appeal line, confidentially, on 0300 1238018.