'Really no excuse': Good Samaritans rescue 2 bags of puppies left to die in rural Manitoba

Two litters of puppies left to die in sealed bags in two Manitoba communities will survive, thanks to the compassion of the people who found them.

13 dogs in total saved from dump in Fairford, bush in Norway House

One of five puppies rescued from the dump at Fairford First Nation. (Courtesy Debra Vandekerkhove)

Two litters of puppies left to die in sealed bags in two Manitoba communities will survive, thanks to the compassion of the people who found them.

Recording artist Wayne Sumner and his brother-in-law Jonah Ross were dropping garbage off at the dump in Fairford First Nation on Tuesday when they heard a sound near a section of burning embers.

"Right beside the burn was a bag of puppies that they heard crying. So that's how it started," said Debra Vandekerkhove, director with Manitoba Animal Alliance, formerly known as Norway House Animal Rescue.

Ross jumped into the burn pit and pulled out the closed cooler duffel bag. Inside were five black female husky-mix puppies.

"They opened the bag, found a box and put them in there," said Vandekerkhove, speaking on behalf of Sumner, who declined an interview with CBC but gave permission for his videos to be shared.

"Looked like their eyes had just opened. They would've been burned alive if it wasn't for them."

Sumner posted a video of their discovery to social media, which was passed on to Vandekerkhove.

"They were both really upset that somebody would take little defenceless animals and take them to the dump — especially as close to the burn site as they were and they were still alive," she said.

The next day, Vandekerkhove drove three hours to the community, 221 kilometres north of Winnipeg, to bring food and supplies for the puppies, which she believes are about two weeks old.

The smallest was the size of a kitten, she estimated, weighing about 500 grams. She and her partner brought canned puppy food, formula, hot water and a high-calorie paste that they could put in the dogs' mouths.

Wayne Sumner, left, and Jonah Ross with the puppies they rescued from the garbage dump at Fairford First Nation. (Courtesy Debra Vandekerkhove)

"We all sat on the grass and we all fed the puppies by hand with our fingers, because they're not big enough to eat on their own yet, plus they were very hungry," said Vandekerkhove.

"The small ones that were under half a pound, they had such great suction, that even though you had only a little bit on your finger tip it was almost impossible to pull your finger out. You had to wrap your whole hand around the dog just to pull out your finger, just to get some more on it. So they were very hungry!"

She drove the dogs back to Winnipeg and to their new home with a whelper — a person with experience caring for puppies and pregnant mothers — affiliated with Manitoba Underdogs, another rescue. The agency will oversee their adoptions to good homes in about six weeks.

8 more puppies found

On Wednesday, Vandekerkhove learned of another rescue that had happened on Saturday in Norway House Cree Nation, 459 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Local pharmacist Mayank Patel and his wife were exercising behind the school when he heard the sound of crying in the woods. They saw a reusable grocery bag lying in the brush. Inside was a litter of eight hungry puppies.

Eight puppies were found inside this reusable grocery bag in Norway House. (Courtesy Debra Vandekerkhove)

"Somebody left them all in a tied-up bag in the bush," said Vandekerkhove.

The couple brought the dogs home, where they happened to have a dog named Coco, which they'd rescued and had just delivered four puppies last month. Coco took the puppies in and has been nursing them with her four others.

The Manitoba Animal Alliance sent up food, supplies, de-wormer and formula for the dogs.

"They're doing great," said Vandekerkhove. "[They're] cuties! They were a mix of just about everything. All Canadian. Some of them look like chocolate lab mixes, black and whites, short haired black and whites. It's like a box of chocolates really."

She added these dogs appear to be older than the litter found in Fairford, about three weeks, as they're just getting their teeth in, and can be started on mush and formula.

"There's really no excuse for any cruelty to animals," said Vandekerkhove. She added anyone who has puppies they can't manage can reach out to nearby vets, their community's leadership, the provincial vet or a rescue group.

"It's what we do right. It's awful what happened, but when it's at that point, we're very grateful to these folks for helping these animals. The focus is helping these owners," said Vandekerkhove.

Dog overpopulation is very big problem in Manitoba, she said, but tactics such as licensing, household pet limits and birth control implanting all help.

"It's not just about the resources, it's about being able to assist communities to assist with dog management programs. Because you can't spay and neuter your way out of this problem, you just can't."

With files from Erin Brohman