BUXTON — Buxton police are trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious case of a litter of very young puppies apparently abandoned at a busy intersection, then rescued by a number of concerned residents.

Police learned of the situation when someone brought one of the litter – a reddish pup about 4 weeks old – to the Buxton police station Friday night.

After discussing the incident with other townspeople, police learned that some number of very young puppies were found in a bag at 6:30 p.m. at the corner of Routes 202 and 4A, and that other people had stepped forward to take them.

By the time officers could get to the scene, everybody – and all the other puppies – were gone.

“We’re trying to reach out to anyone that has information, primarily people who were on scene and aided the puppies, possibly took them home or took them to a shelter,” said Adam Ricci, animal control officer for Buxton. “We have no information as far as motive, reasoning, anything along those lines.”

“Whoever stopped and discarded the puppies did so in a manner to abandon them which rises to the level of animal cruelty,” he said.

The puppies are far too young to be taken from their mother, Ricci said. Puppies are not legally supposed to be separated from their mothers until 8 weeks old, he said.

The one that was brought to police was turned over to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland and then placed in foster care with a veterinary technician. That person is feeding the dog a milk substitute every two to three hours and trying to replicate the assistance the mother dog would provide. Puppies that young still need help stimulating urination and defecation, Ricci said.

Ricci said anyone with unwanted animals should contact their local animal control officer for alternatives rather than abandoning them.