PETA offering reward for arrest of person responsible for leaving puppies to die in Colorado wilderness

Little Ni is one of only two puppies from the litter still alive. If she and her sibling continue to get stronger, they will eventually be placed in foster care and could be adoptable one day. (Photo: Garfield County SO)

RIFLE, Colo. (KKTV) - UPDATE (11/5, 12:40 p.m.): Divide Creek Animal Hospital tells 11 News they believe the two surviving puppies died while in foster care.

The animal hospital tells 11 News official confirmation needs to come from Colorado Animal Rescue, who was most recently caring for the puppies. The rescue is closed Monday.

We have also placed a call with the Garfield County Sheriff's Office's animal control department.

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PREVIOUS (11/5, 9:23 a.m.): Two puppies continue to fight for their lives after they were left for dead in a cold wooded area far from any roads -- and now PETA is offering a reward for the arrest of the person responsible.

Nine puppies had been dumped in a trash bag, their eyes unopened, umbilical cords dry and still attached to their bodies. A couple camping near the town of Rifle came upon the litter on Oct. 26 -- and just in the nick of time, the Garfield County Sheriff's Office said. The day was cold and expected to get colder still. The puppies were only 24 hours old and would not have survived the night. Two had already died prior to their rescue.

"The puppies were taken to the Divide Creek Animal Shelter for immediate care by one of the sheriff’s Animal Control deputies who was on scene," the sheriff's office said Wednesday. "Once at the clinic, the puppies were immediately placed in warm towels and under a surgical lamp with several bulbs to bring their body temperatures back up to a normal range. A bottle feeder was used with formula to nourish the puppies. Puppies generally eat about every two hours. Once fed and in their warm environment, the puppies quit crying and fidgeting; they were able to rest after a very turbulent and stressful beginning to their life."

Sadly, despite the best efforts of deputies and veterinary staff, all but two of the surviving puppies later died. Ni, pictured above this article, and her sole remaining sibling continue to bravely fight to live. They have become strong enough to go into foster homes, but are still being carefully monitored.

If they continue to thrive, the puppies could eventually be up for adoption.

Whoever is responsible for leaving the litter to a death sentence faces a minimum fine of $500 and up to six months in jail. Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Garfield County Sheriff's Office at 970-625-8095.

PETA announced Monday that they are offering a $5,000 reward for "information leading to the arrest and conviction on cruelty-to-animals charges of the person or persons responsible for dumping these puppies."

The organization said it felt moved to help, as its motto is, in part, "animals are not ours to abuse in any way."

"At least one person out there left a trash bag full of newborn puppies outside in the cold and walked away, leaving them vulnerable to dying of hypothermia," said PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange in a statement. "PETA urges anyone with information to come forward immediately so that whoever left these dogs to die can be held accountable and stopped from hurting anyone else."