By Brandi Jewett/Grand Forks Herald
A black lab and her 10 puppies are safe after being abandoned in a box next to a Dumpster Wednesday night in south Grand Forks during single-digit temperatures.
The temperature had reached about 6 degrees when the litter was discovered around 6 p.m. and animal control was notified.
The family was brought to the Circle of Friends Humane Society and is doing well, according to Interim Executive Director Rachael Bergman.
Instead of a cardboard box, the dogs have their own room in the animal shelter complete with plenty of blankets and animal care attendants such as Katie Hanson to make sure they have everything they need.
Thursday evening, Hanson sat in with the litter and watched them as they fed, moving a pup here and there to make sure they all had milk.
"I think you've had enough," she said, picking up an especially portly black puppy.
In all, there are four lighter-colored pups and six black ones. The size of the litter was likely a factor in the group being abandoned, Bergman said.
"I'm assuming it was too much for them to handle," Bergman said. "Normally, puppies come in four or five -- 10 is a big litter of puppies."
At 10 days old, the puppies' eyes are just beginning to open at the corners, and they're able to crawl. Bergman estimated the puppies' mother isn't all that old herself, likely less than 2 years old.
A foster home is in the works for the dogs, but Bergman said donations of supplies such as puppy formula, bedding and puppy food would be appreciated.
The puppies will not be ready for adoption until they are 8 weeks old. None of the dogs have been named yet, as it's often left up to the foster family, though it's likely the names may have a holiday theme, Bergman said.
The dogs are probably not strays, as the mother is housebroken, but if the owner does attempt to claim them, Bergman said they would not be released back to him or her.
The case of the abandoned pups and their mother isn't an isolated one in the Grand Forks area, according to Bergman.
"Abandoned animals are left everywhere," she said, with some found around town while others are left outside the shelter. As of November, the shelter had taken in 1,727 animals. About 350 were claimed by owners, and 1,000 were adopted.
Under state law, animal abandonment is a a class A misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail, a $3,000 fine or both.
State law also indicates animals left outside need to have access to adequate food, water and shelter.
"Obviously, these guys didn't have any of that," Bergman said.