The SPCA are seeking answers after a small dog was found abandoned at a SH1 rest area, tied to a rubbish bin.

It's not known how long the border terrier cross, Chewie, was left without shelter and apparently without food or water on Waikouaiti-Waitati Rd, near Seacliff.

"The dog is just left out in the open, exposed to all the elements, no way of getting away from anything that might happen to it," said inspector Sophia Tinirau.

If the dog's rescuer hadn't happened to pull into the "pretty remote" rest area, it's not clear what would have happened to her.

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"If no one finds them, it's giving them a death sentence," Tinirau said.

Chewie was tied to the bin with a red cable, and while there is no way of knowing how long she was there for, she was bright and alert when found, suggesting she may have been left the same day.

The member of the public who found her took her into the SPCA Dunedin centre.

Abandoning an animal is a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, Tinirau said.

She said it was an unusual abandonment because Chewie did not appear to have any health or behavioural issues.

They were "really struggling to pinpoint why they would even have reason to desert such a lovely dog".

Chewie has a "beautiful nature" and is recovering from her ordeal at the centre well.

Tinirau urged anyone thinking of abandoning a dog to reach out for help from friends and family or the SPCA instead of resorting to desertion.

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"They're completely innocent and we're the only ones that can provide for them what they need," she said.

Chewie has no microchip and is not desexed. She is a young adult female who is tan with a black muzzle.

The SPCA is seeking further information about Chewie.

Anyone with information can contact the Dunedin Centre on 03 473 8252. All information will be treated as confidential.