Puppies saved by farmer on river bank ready for life of love with new families
They were left for dead beside a river, but these eight adorable puppies have had the phones of a Co Down animal sanctuary ringing off the hook.
The tiny pooches - which are believed to be Terrier/Collie crossbreeds - were discovered yelping for help in a cardboard box near Omagh by a farmer out feeding his sheep last month.
They were transferred by a relay of volunteer drivers across Northern Ireland to Assisi Animal Sanctuary just outside Newtownards where they were treated by a vet and each cared for by a foster parent for several weeks.
There were hundreds of inquiries about the litter when the Belfast Telegraph featured them last month with many animal lovers desperate to rehome them.
Even a few weeks of a wait did not put their many fans off and all eight were booked by delighted new owners within 24 hours of being cleared for adoption on Sunday.
They are expected to be making their way to their new homes over the next two weeks.
Assisi manager Heather Weatherup said the puppies and their sad story had sparked a huge amount of interest, but emphasised that the sanctuary is currently home to other puppies that also need loving homes.
When the Omagh puppies were originally rescued, Ms Weatherup said rescuers knew immediately from the smell that they had been in a home and were well cared-for by somebody.
It is not known exactly how they came to be abandoned in a box beside the river, but she believes someone had intended to drown them and had second thoughts.
"We think somebody has gone there to drown them, then when they got there they couldn't do it," she said. "We were on standby in case they were in poor condition but we could tell they had been fed well before."
The puppies are currently still in their foster homes and did not have to spend any time in the sanctuary.
Ms Weatherup said the sanctuary is receiving scores of pups by the day from various council pounds across Northern Ireland.
These include the 14-week-old Jack Russell pups Chuck and Norris.
They were both booked for rehoming on Sunday, but the sanctuary is still seeking to rehome other pups, as well as older dogs, kittens, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs.
Assisi Animal Sanctuary is located at 1 Old Bangor Road, Conlig, Co Down. Anyone wishing to rehome an animal should visit the centre, seek advice from staff and fill in an application form.