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A dog has been found abandoned and chained to a gate with six newborn puppies.
Heartbreaking pictures show the fearful mother desperately trying to fend for her litter while tightly chained to a gate by a field near Elphin, County Roscommon, Ireland.
Mercifully, a member of the public discovered the helpless two-year-old lurcher and her puppies, alerting police and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA).
The dogs were cold and hungry when they were rescued and were subsequently transported to the ISPCA National Animal Centre in Longford for urgent veterinary assessment. Fortunately, they did not appear to have any serious health issues.
It is not known how long the dog and her puppies had been left alone by the field.
The dogs - which were found last Tuesday - are now being closely monitored in the ISPCA's care and Hugh O'Toole, the ISPCA centre manager, has condemned the actions of whichever awful person abandoned them.
He said: "Leaving a young dog only two-years-old tied up without water, food or shelter most definitely put her along with her young puppies' lives at risk. We are urging pet owners to spay or neuter their pets as early as possible to reduce the high number of unwanted animals.
"I don't understand how anyone can think it is OK to leave a dog tied to a gate to nurse her puppies. With the recent level of rainfall and cold weather this week, the outcome could have been very different and I'm happy we were alerted so we could help them."
He added: "The dog was scanned for a chip to trace her owner but unfortunately she was not microchipped which, is a legal requirement.
"Our centres are constantly full to capacity and with very limited resources, we sometimes have had to use private boarding kennels to help the number of animals waiting to come in, once space becomes available. It can also take time to find good responsible homes for the many animals in our care."
The mum has now been named Emmy Lou, while her puppies have been given the names Billy Ray, Dixie, Dolly, Dotty, June and Patsy. They will all remain in the care of the ISPCA until the New Year, when the centre will look to rehome them.
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