The CHB SPCA is investigating the death of 14 puppies, found dumped along riverbanks in the district.
The dead pups were from two litters dumped in separate incidents three weeks apart, said CHB SPCA shelter manager Renee Hickey.
In the most recent incident, Hickey said seven dead pups from one litter were found dead last Wednesday in a blackberry bush along a stretch of the Tukipo River near Blackburn Rd in Takapau.
"They were less than 10 days old - they didn't even have their eyes open yet," said Hickey.
The dead pups were discovered last Wednesday afternoon by a local man who was out for a walk along the river when he heard a squeak coming from the bush, Hickey said.
They had probably been dumped sometime last Tuesday night or on Wednesday morning, she said.
Only one male brown-and-white pup from the litter survived.
In another incident in Waipukurau just two days after Christmas, a litter of nine pups roughly the same age was found abandoned along the banks of the Tukituki River off Mt Herbert Rd.
Hickey said in that case, seven of the pups were found dead, while two survived.
"Puppies at that age need to be with their mothers - they have no chance [of surviving]."
Hickey initially said what appeared to be the abandonment of two litters had sickened her.
"It's absolutely disgusting behaviour. It makes me sick to think that people can act like that," she said.
But after posting about the discovery of the dead pups in Takapau on Facebook, Hickey revealed those involved had come forward and on Friday said the incident may not be "entirely as it seems".
She said the owners believed all eight pups were dead and they had wanted to dispose of the bodies away from the mother.
"They were shocked to learn that one was still alive.
"When they did, they hung their heads. I'm still not convinced an offence hasn't occurred, but it's part of an ongoing investigation so I can't say any more because it's confidential."
They were less than 10 days old - they didn't even have their eyes open yet.
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However the dumping of dead animals along riverbanks was not the appropriate way of disposing of their bodies, and she urged owners of unwanted pets to firstly contact the SPCA or the CHB District Council rather than abandon or dump them.
"There's always another option, rather than the cruelty option," she said.
Manager of the local CHB SPCA shelter for the past five years, Hickey urged owners of female dogs to have them spayed, as the abandonment of animals was becoming an increasing problem in the district.
"It's becoming a big problem because people just aren't de-sexing their animals and they can't deal with it when they have babies," Hickey said.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, an owner who deserted an animal without making provisions to meet its physical, health, and behavioural needs could face up to a year in prison and/or a $50,000 fine if convicted.
- Anyone with information about the abandoned litter in Waipukurau on December 27, or knows of an owner whose dog is no longer pregnant but does not have any pups, is urged to contact the CHB SPCA on 06 858 8933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org