After nearly being buried alive in a grave with their dead parents Sunday night, five, two-week old pit bull-mix puppies are recovering at the Wayne County Animal Shelter with a nursing mother.
Once they reach 8 weeks old, said shelter director Wayne Benton, they will be adoptable.
But, the chance people will be able to adopt them from the local shelter here is slim.
Benton said the shelter will put out a plea for a rescue organization to take them in and give them a bed, which will guarantee they will be adopted.
Often, those rescues are in the northern part of the country, out of state.
"We'll put out a plea that they need somebody to look after them, or take care of them and find them a home," Benton said. "Most of the time we have pretty good success with that."
Wayne County sheriff's deputies responded to a call of two people digging a hole behind an abandoned house in the 600 block of Antioch Road late Sunday night.
En route, the deputies received another call advising them that the two people had fired three shots into the hole.
In the field, behind the abandoned house, deputies came across a disturbing scene.
According to an incident report, Emily Ann Gray, 29, and Marquise Christopher Johnson, 27, had allegedly shot and killed two adult dogs, placed them inside the hole and then placed the two adult dogs' five living puppies inside the hole with their dead parents.
Johnson initially told deputies the dogs had an incurable illness and they needed to be put down, the report said.
But once he was taken to the magistrate's office, Johnson changed his story. There, he told deputies the reason he shot the puppies' mother was because she had growled at him and bit him, according to the report.
Johnson, of 314 Charles St., is charged with five counts of animal cruelty, felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance.
Gray, of the same address as Johnson, is charged with five counts of animal cruelty.
The deputies at the scene called animal control, and officer James Smith responded and took custody of the five puppies and removed the two adult dogs from the hole.
Authorities then reportedly seized 10.5 grams of marijuana from the pair's white Honda Odyssey van. They also found the handgun allegedly used to shoot the two dogs stashed inside a window of the abandoned house.
The five puppies thrown into the hole with their dead parents are the same ones now being taken care of at the local shelter.
"We have them on a mama dog at this particular time that had just weaned some puppies," Benton said. "She had eight of her own, and they come in just about weaning age so we could put them up for adoption. But these little guys probably have another four to five weeks before they're ready for solid food and stuff like that."
If the puppies do not go to a rescue organization before they reach six to eight weeks old, Benton said they will be given their first set of shots and three rounds of de-wormer while they are still with the shelter.
"If we do have to hold them for the six to eight weeks, we very seldom ever euthanize a puppy unless it gets sick," Benton said.
Benton added that shelter workers have not yet found any signs of the puppies being sick or diseased.
If people want to help in the meantime while the puppies remain at the shelter while they are unadoptable, or until they go to a rescue organization, Benton said people can donate meal replacement in case they have to be weaned off the mother or volunteer their time to bottle-feed the puppies if that becomes necessary.
Sheriff's Office: Man and woman shot, killed two adult dogs, tried to bury five live puppies along with them