19 puppies found in woods, some trapped in box in Orangeburg County

Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 5:34 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 4:20 AM EDT
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ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Casey Whitehead says the dirt roads behind her home in Holly Hill are a common place people dump unwanted dogs. That’s part of the reason she founded R.A.V.E. which stands for Rural Animal Volunteer Effort.

She has been working on getting approved as a non-profit since 2020.

Whitehead and her husband drive the roads, often every day, to check for animals in need of help. She says Thursday night, they found something they had never seen before. They noticed two puppies crossing the road and stopped to pick them up.

“We stop, I jump out, it’s starting to pour down rain, and I get in the woods and realize it’s not two puppies. It’s a lot of puppies. There’s puppies everywhere,” Whitehead says.

She and her husband collected nine puppies, which they believe are from the same litter, and took them back to their house. Then, they went back out to the dirt roads to see if they missed anything.

That’s when they found a brown cardboard food bank box.

“When I picked up the box, the tape came loose on the bottom, which was actually the top of the box. And nine newborn puppies that were wet with afterbirth on them, came falling out of the box,” Whitehead says.

She said one of the puppies in the newborn litter from the box did not make it through the night.

Shaken by what they found, she and her husband went back to the woods one more time in search of any clues. On their third visit, they did find one more puppy that appears to be a part of the first litter.

All in all, they found 19 dogs, 18 of which survived and are now getting treatment.

“We can make room before something like that happens, because it lowers the chance that somebody is going to find them before something bad happens,” Whitehead says. “And by the time they are found, they are usually in really bad shape. So it costs us more to get them back to their healthy conditions because they sat out in the woods for who knows how long.”

She encourages everyone to spay and neuter their pets if they don’t plan to care for puppies and reach out to local shelters if they are overwhelmed.

“They didn’t want anyone to find those dogs. And that’s terrible. I understand not being able to care for them. People get into bad situations, I completely understand. But don’t do something like that,” Whitehead says.

R.A.V.E. is offering reward money for anyone who knows anything about the dumping. Whitehead says she’s amazed by how people have been sharing the story and donating to the reward fund.

“Somebody knows their neighbor or their cousin or their friend that had a dog that had a litter of puppies, or should have had a litter of puppies. And either doesn’t have the puppies or the mom, and all the puppies are gone,” Whitehead says.

She and her neighbors want to see more police and deputy presence out on the backroads since she says the dumping is constant.

Whitehead says shelters across the area are overflowing, and while they work together, they all need help in term of adoption, fosters and supplies. She hopes sharing her experience will get out the message to spay and neuter pets and support local shelters.

Lakeside Animal Rescue has taken on the litter of newborn puppies to help care for them and find them homes.

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