GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – Five puppies are recovering after being rescued from their parents’ grave.
Wayne County animal control officers said a Goldsboro couple fatally shot the older dogs and were going to bury alive the abandon the puppies.
“They had already been placed on top of the deceased, and was fixing to be covered,” animal control officer James Smith said.
“They had already been placed on top of the deceased, and was fixing to be covered.”
“I took the two adult animals out of the hole, the dirt, bagged them, and then I took custody of the puppies.”
A neighbor on Antioch Road called 911 after seeing headlights on some farmland northwest of Goldsboro. Deputies arrived and found Marquise Christopher Johnson and Emily Ann Gray behind an abandoned farmhouse.
There was a freshly dug hole, and investigators said they found a gun in the farmhouse which they believe Johnson and Gray used to kill the two larger dogs.
The pair face five counts of animal cruelty, one for each puppy, and animal shelter director Wayne Benton said there could be additional charges for the parents pending necropsy results.
“I just don’t understand what goes through people’s minds when they do something like that,” Smith said.
The three boys and two girls are currently in a kennel with a surrogate mother dog at the Wayne County Animal Adoption & Education Center.
That dog recently had a litter of puppies, and she is nursing the new puppies. The five little dogs began eating some solid food Thursday, and the shelter staff is prepared to feed the puppies with bottles in case the surrogate cannot produce enough milk.
Benton said the puppies are about three weeks old and appear to be in good health. They can be put up for adoption once they are eight weeks old. The animal services staff is reaching out to rescue groups to try to find temporary care for the puppies until they can go to permanent homes.
“Sometimes it’s heartbreaking, but the good that we try to do makes up for the bad you see,” Benton said.
The shelter director praised the neighbor who saw something and said something, as it enabled deputies and animal control to get to the scene quick enough to save the puppies and catch the suspects. Benton said this case also emphasizes the importance of having pets spayed and neutered.
“If anybody in Wayne County is overwhelmed with too many puppies, too may cats, whatever in the animal line, all they have to do is call us,” he said.
“I would rather residents of Wayne County bring them to the shelter than to do what they were going to do. It’s more humane. They’ve got a chance to find a home.”
Benton said if people in the Goldsboro community want to help, they can donate items for bottle feeding the puppies, such as powdered milk and baby bottles.