Jennifer Patterson knew what it was when she saw the plastic tub left outside the Patterson Animal Hospital in Stilwell, Okla.
The tub was sealed with duct tape wound around it like two straps. Someone had punched holes in the sides and lid of the tub.
She took the tub inside, cut the tape off and pulled the lid off.
“Oh my gosh,” she said.
Patterson grabbed her cellphone to get a close-up of what was trapped inside — 10 puppies, stacked on top of one another. The littlest one was stuffed underneath the rest and in very bad shape.
“It is packed full, packed full,” she narrated as adorable puppy faces stared up at her. The dogs were panting, tiny pink tongues hanging out.
“It is wet and hot in there,” she said.
Patterson, a registered veterinary technician, filmed herself opening the tub because she’s tired of people abandoning animals like this, she told KJRH in Tulsa.
The video posted to the Paws and Hooves Rescue Foundation Facebook page has been viewed by millions of people, many expressing outrage.
“I just thought, I’m going to video this because I want people to see what we have to deal with on a weekly basis,” Patterson told KJRH.
“I got angry, first. It’s just not fair to us because I knew we had a full kennel, all of our pens were full. Where are we going to put these guys?
“If people would contact us, we’d give them resources and we’d try to help them out before just dumping them on our doorstep and making us decide what to do.”
Stilwell, 90 minutes east of Tulsa, is one of the most impoverished towns in the state of Oklahoma. Puppies are abandoned often, usually dropped off in remote areas, because people can’t afford to feed them, let alone spay or neuter them, according to Paws and Hooves.
Across the country, animal shelters take in about 6.5 million dogs and cats every year, according to the ASPCA. And every year, about 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized.
Paws and Hooves takes in between 400 and 500 dogs a year. They’re all spayed or neutered and given immunization shots. Since it’s hard to find adoptive families in the area, some of the animals are taken to larger cities to be adopted.
The rescue group, which operates out of Patterson Animal Hospital, can’t keep up with the demand for its services and is raising money to build a new center next to the hospital.
After the puppies were dumped, the group set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise $75,000 for the new shelter.
“We try to save euthanasia as a last resort, but unfortunately there are animals with conditions that are financially untreatable by the rescue,” veterinarian Yolanda Burton Patterson told KJRH.
Thanks to Jennifer Patterson’s video, scores of people offered to take in the puppies stuffed in the tub. All 10 have found homes.