Six newborn puppies who were “moments from death” were found by Durham police in a sealed plastic bag on Saturday.
Early in the morning of March 18, two officers were travelling along the A689, leaving Bishop Auckland, when they spotted a parked vehicle with the driver stood beside it.
PCs Liam Vernon and Luke Howie from Durham Constabulary drove closer and noticed the driver was swinging a sealed carrier bag on the edge of the grass verge nearby.
The constables parked up behind the vehicle, and allegedly saw the man fling the carrier bag onto the front seat – before beginning to inspect his tyre – as the pair got out of the car.
The officers could hear squealing coming from the passenger’s side seat as they walked up to the car.
As they got closer, they realised it was the same bag the driver had been swinging – the officers said it was tightly sealed shut.
PCs Vernon and Howie untied the bag and found six, five-day-old cocker spaniel puppies inside – their eyes had not opened yet.
“The puppies were riddled with fleas and if we’d have passed just seconds before, we would have been none the wiser,” PC Vernon said.
“Both myself and Luke are huge dog lovers, so it has been one of those jobs which has really stuck with us, we’ve hardly stopped thinking about it but are just glad to have saved them – it really was right place, right time.”
The driver was questioned at the roadside while the puppies were monitored, and then transported to a local vet for treatment.
The man, in his 50s, was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty, money laundering and trafficking of a controlled drug and taken into custody.
He has since been released on bail while enquiries continue.
All six puppies are now making a full recovery at Wear Referrals Vets, in Bradbury, Stockton-on-Tees, and will soon be fostered.
As part of the investigation, officers carried out a Section 18 warrant of the man’s address and rescued the puppies’ parents as well.
They have since been reunited with the litter and are also receiving treatment.