Puck, a 4-week-old puppy who was rescued from the side of a road in Buxton, is being nursed back to health while authorities look for his siblings and the person who abandoned the litter.

“They were in a bag. They were discarded off to the side of the road,” said Adam Ricci, Buxton’s animal control officer. “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.”

The puppies were separated from their mother too young — eight weeks is the legal and healthy minimum — and they need warmth, special food and medical care if they are to survive, Ricci said.

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

Puck was retrieved from the roadside at routes 202 and 4A on Friday evening by a driver who turned him in to Buxton police. Another driver scooped up two other puppies that were found along the road. Those dogs have not been turned in.

“I noticed a line of cars starting to form up and I looked outside and there were a few puppies running around. I wasn’t sure someone had thrown them out,” said Peter Griffin, who was working at the nearby Aubuchon Hardware store at the time.

Supposedly, someone had seen the puppies tossed out of a car, he said. Then passing motorists stopped to help.

“A gentleman in the store ended up grabbing one of them,” Griffin said. “He had it in his hand. It was tiny. It fit in the palm of his hand.”

Ricci said he hasn’t determined how long the puppies were at the roadside or how many were there.

Puck arrived at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland infested with fleas and lice, but he has bounced back under the doting care of Amanda Anderson, a veterinary technician at Westbrook Animal Hospital.

“He needs to eat every couple hours,” she said. “He goes to the bathroom pretty much like clockwork every hour.”

The blonde puppy — possibly a terrier mix, though Anderson can’t be certain — is a cute bundle of clumsy who has graduated from formula to solid food in just five days.

“He’s still learning to get his sea legs. Walking on linoleum and hardwood floors can be hard on him,” she said. Anderson said she named the affectionate canine Puck, after the mischievous sprite in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Anderson was the technician on duty when Puck (known briefly as Champion) was brought in, and she offered to care for him. She hopes that his siblings will be brought into the refuge league for checkups.

“My hope is, people will realize how young these puppies really are and the kind of care they require and, while cute and adorable, it’s really important they be taken to the Animal Refuge League to have them looked over by a veterinarian,” Anderson said.

Fleas and ticks must be addressed, and the puppies are too young for over-the-counter products to control them.

Ricci urged people who have unwanted pets not to abandon them, but to contact their local animal control officer.

Patsy Murphy, executive director of the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, said the league’s mission is giving animals a second chance.

“The emphasis, for us, is humane education,” she said. “You just don’t leave puppies or dump them in the community.”

Finding a dog with a recent litter that could nurse the puppies would be ideal, she said. Absent that, the puppies will need constant attention.

“If they get sick, their health is very fragile,” Murphy said. “Many times their little lives hang in the balance.”

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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