Animal welfare officers are determined to find who dumped a dog and her three 6-week-old black puppies on Dannevirke's rural Top Grass Rd recently.

"Abandoning a pet is a cowardly act we regard as absolutely awful," Laura Phillips, the Dannevirke SPCA's animal welfare inspector said.

"When you own an animal you are responsible for their welfare for their whole lives. This dog would have trusted her owners and it seems they have let her down when she needed their help the most.

"This doesn't happen too often with dogs, thankfully."

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Phillips told the Dannevirke News the dogs could not have wandered there as the puppies couldn't walk very far and were found huddled in a fish bin.

"There is pretty good reason to suspect someone has knowingly taken them out to a country road and simply driven off," she said.

Phillips and the Tararua District Council's animal control officers are asking for the public's help in finding the owners of the tan, female pitbull terrier and her puppies.

"They had likely been left there for a few days as the young bitch had made a nest in the grass in an attempt to keep her pups safe," Phillips said.

"Puppies are a lot of fun and work, they require a good diet, worming, flea treatments and vaccinations to enable them to have a a good start in life. This is why if you can't financially commit to these requirements, de-sexing is the best and cheapest option for you."

It is every owner's responsibility to re-home their pet if they can no longer keep the animal and meet its needs.

"We urge anyone having trouble finding a dog a suitable new home to contact the council animal control officers or SPCA for help with re-homing," Phillips said.

The SPCA and Tararua Council Animal Control work together to re-home hundreds of great animals every year.

"The SPCA are the only charity with the power to prosecute people under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and we would like to remind the public that a person commits an offence when, being the owner of, or person in charge of, an animal, without reasonable excuse, deserts the animal in circumstances in which no provision is made to meet its physical, health, and behavioural needs," Laura said.

Doing so can lead to a 12 month imprisonment term or a fine up to $50,000.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Laura Phillips on 027 726 2625.