The senselessness behind a despicable act of animal cruelty in Texas has left authorities grasping.
"What kind of sense does any of this make?" Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler pondered.
"This" would be a litter of 1-week-old puppies left in a crate along a rural road west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis, still trying to suckle milk from their dead mother's body. Their mother had been shot in the head.
"One of the puppies barely has its eyes open," the sheriff's office's animal control supervisor, Karen Kessler told the DFW CBS affiliate. "They were covered in their mother's blood."
"These puppies were left defenseless and still nursing on their deceased mother," Fowler said.
A school bus driver was taking 11 elementary school students to school in Wednesday morning when he spotted the crate and then saw what was inside. Law enforcement says they do not believe the children on board the bus saw anything.
Seven female and three male puppies were rescued and taken in by the Angels and Outlaws Second Chance Bully Ranch in Hico, Texas. The woman who runs the animal rescue, Jennifer Aikman, pulled two nursing mothers from other shelters and paired them up with the puppies. Those dogs are now acting as surrogate mothers to the orphaned pups.
"She took those pups in like it was nothing," Aikman said on the rescue's Facebook page of Lena, a pitbull who is nursing three of the puppies.
Aikman says the puppies are doing well and is optimistic that they are going to survive the ordeal. But the horrible start to their life haunts her.
"Did he go take his kids to school? Eat breakfast? Where do you go after you shoot your dog in the head and leave it on the side of the road, dead with 10 puppies?"
The sheriff's office says the mother dog, a brown shepherd/heeler mix, was clearly malnourished, weighing 15 pounds less than she should. The only evidence left at the scene was the crate itself: a wire crate with an egg crate glued to the bottom, an empty water bowl made from a pot. No clues as to where the dogs came from. The spot where the dogs were left, the 100 block of Raley Road, is in a lightly populated area near Springtown, Texas.
"It’s hard to imagine that someone would be so cruel as to execute any animal, but to kill a dog with nursing babies, and leave such a gory picture, is beyond human imagination," Fowler said. His office is offering a $2,000-and-counting reward for information that could lead to an arrest.
Aikman says the puppies will be available for adoption to loving families once they are weaned.
A link to the rescue's Facebook page is available on the right side of this page.