BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
They can't all be named Lucky, but 15 newborn puppies were fortunate to be alive and recovering Friday after they were abandoned in a cardboard box outside the Bakersfield SPCA overnight in freezing temperatures.
An SPCA surveillance camera captured video of a man in a hooded sweatshirt getting out of a pickup truck and leaving the box of mixed-breed puppies at the no-kill shelter's front doors at 12:42 a.m. His license plate could not be read, they said.
By 1 a.m., according to a National Weather Service official, the mercury had fallen to 32 degrees at Meadows Field airport, and at 4:56 a.m., the temperature reached 27 degrees, the Friday morning low.
SPCA officials posted a bitter message on Facebook thanking the anonymous man.
"Perhaps the time may come when you cannot take care of yourself (and) someone will return the favor ... " they posted.
"Why doesn't anybody think about what they're doing? They might think they're bringing them to a shelter, but it's one without people there. It's really unkind," said SPCA Director Julie Johnson, adding, "It's illegal to abandon animals."
According to Bakersfield Municipal Code, abandoning or turning loose any animal is a misdemeanor offense.
SPCA officials said Friday that if the man had brought the litter in during business hours, they would have found foster homes for the puppies, and likely would have discounted their $30 surrender fee per dog.
Facebook users were outraged too. The SPCA post got more than 200 "likes," 130 comments, and about 100 "shares."
"What a jerk," posted Facebook member Candy Crush of Bakersfield. "These people should be arrested and sent to Antarctica butt naked!"
Others agreed, though Bakersfield resident Elena C. Dorsey posted she was also "grateful they at least dropped them off there and (had) not drowned, suffocated or simply abandoned them where they wouldn't have been found."
Kennel technician Leona Elfattal arrived to work a half-hour early, at 6:30 a.m., and thought the box covered with a white blanket might be supplies someone had donated -- until she lifted the lid and saw 15 tiny, wrinkly dogs all huddled in a pile on a wet blanket.
"When I picked up the box, the box was falling in, so I knew they had stayed overnight," Elfattal said. "It was crazy 'cause it was my very first time fostering dogs. It was scary."
Scary because at first no one knew if all 15 of the pups were still alive.
"We thought a couple of them were dead, but they weren't," said kennel technician Jeanette Folk, who was driving to work when she got Elfattal's frantic cell phone call.
The two women rubbed the tiny dogs -- no longer than six inches, with eyes still closed and remnants of umbilical cords attached -- to warm them, turning up the heat and swaddling them in blankets like human babies while mixing a batch of Esbilac puppy formula.
The pups figured out what those plastic nipples and tiny bottles meant, and ate. And ate. And ate.
By day's end, all had gone home with volunteers, who will mind them for the roughly two weeks until their eyes open, and feed them formula every two hours for about a month until they're weaned.
In about two months, all should be available for adoption.