A litter of abandoned puppies is taken care of by an animal welfare charity after being found by a roadside in Co Armagh.
The six-week-old German Shepherd puppies were described as shaking when discovered by a member of the public at a catwalk by a country lane in south Armagh.
They are now supported by the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA).
The litter is one of many cases of animal abandonment reported by the USPCA when it reopened on Wednesday after the Christmas holidays.
USPCA Development Manager Colleen Tinnelly said one of the puppies was seriously ill and expressed disappointment that the young dogs were left on their own, especially in wet and windy conditions.
She said it was too early to say if the five puppies would survive their ordeal.
“We are dismayed that despite numerous appeals to the public regarding responsible pet ownership, we are still seeing helpless young animals being abandoned by a busy and dangerous roadside just days after Christmas. “she said.
“Following the examination of our veterinary team, the five abandoned puppies are being treated. Unfortunately, one is currently in critical condition.
“We don’t know how long they were outside exposed to wet and windy weather conditions, but we are very grateful to the member of the public for saving them from a dire situation.
“We really hope that all of the puppies can make a full recovery, but it’s still very early to tell.
“We urge the public to think long and hard about their pets – are they sterilized? Can you take care of an unexpected litter? Otherwise, we remind them to be responsible owners and to have their pets sterilized. There is absolutely no excuse for letting young animals suffer because you haven’t made this conscious decision.
Ms Tinnelly said the charity had also received more calls from members of the public regarding the abandonment of their pets. She said animal shelters across Northern Ireland were operating at full capacity.
“Unfortunately, in the months after Christmas we are preparing for an increase in the number of unwanted animals and we are trying to accommodate as many as possible,” she said.
“Never have we seen cases like this so quickly in the back of Christmas, we are shocked and very disappointed that this continues to happen.
“Our advice on responsible pet ownership is clear: an animal is not a toy; it is a lifetime commitment and does not come with a return policy. – PA