A couple living in El Monte, California, Gloria and Guillermo Reyes, found a scary package at the side of the road on Halloween morning. The package was a cardboard box with a plastic garbage bag tied tightly around it. There was nothing extraordinary about it until they noticed that it was moving.

“They live across the street from a church, and the box was just sitting on the curb in front of the church,” Piper Wood, founder of Hand in Paw, a California rescue group, said. “It was unusual for garbage to be out there. They had noticed it yesterday, but they hadn’t noticed any movement. And then, they saw that the bag part of it was moving.”

Hand in Paw

When the couple went to take a closer look, they noticed a dog’s snout poling from a hole in the cardboard, trying to chew through the plastic!

Without waiting further, they ripped the package open and there, looking weak and scared, was a golden retriever puppy!

Hand in Paw

“They were shocked,” Wood said. “It’s hard to comprehend how someone can consciously take a puppy and leave it to die intentionally like that.”

The couple then contacted Berni Gutierrez, their relative, to ask for help and he immediately called Wood.

Hand in Paw

“I said, ‘Get the dog to the vet right now, and I will meet them there,’” Wood said.

Wood was worried in the beginning that the 8-weeks-old puppy would have suffered from oxygen deprivation in the box, given that he had been there for more than 24 hours. The puppy was indeed very sluggish and tired, which could have been caused by lack of oxygen. But the vet revealed something even more serious about the pup—he had parvovirus, a deadly disease that attacks a dog’s intestinal linings and breaks it down. Thankfully, it was not too late for the puppy to be treated for it.

Hand in Paw

“He’s very lethargic right now … but he does wag his tail and gives kisses,” Wood said. “You can tell that he’s going to be a really great dog, but he’s just not feeling well right now.”

The puppy is now named Dexter and wood thinks he belonged to a backyard breeder. The breeder probably had abandoned him instead of taking him to the vet, after he got the virus.

Hand in Paw

“We see it all the time,” Wood said. “As soon as those dogs show any sign of illness, they get immediately tossed out. This is just very disturbing.”

Although Dexter had a devastating start to life, Wood is determined to make sure the rest of his life is spent happily. After being healthy enough, Wood will put Dexter up for adoption and find the best forever home for him.

Hand in Paw

“We already have hundreds of adoption offers for him,” Wood said. “He’s a golden retriever, so he’s adorable.”

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