Heaven Can Wait Animal Rescue has stepped in to provide care for a group of dogs that were found abandoned near Okotoks.

Late last week, five Yorkie-type dogs were found near 338th Ave, north of Okotoks.

Founder of Heaven Can Wait, Kim Hessel, says it took some doing to wrangle all of them up.

"We got a call from one of my regular volunteers who spotted one or two of them... She said 'Hey, we're trying to catch these two little dogs we just spotted.' She was able to catch one with the help of her son, a little six-year-old boy was able to corner this little dog in the country and be able to pick her up. The other ones ended up taking a little more work and were caught in a 48-hour period."

All five of them were female, in the five to eight-year-old range, and unspayed.

Their fur was also heavily matted, suggesting they'd been in poor condition for some time.

All of those factors led Hessel to believe they were abandoned by a backyard breeder or puppy mill.

"I'm not usually one of these people who jumps on the worst-case scenario, it just does seem super coincidental. Absolutely zero identification, all in the same overall poor condition, all of them requiring extensive vetting. I don't think this is somebody who just loves Yorkies and couldn't care for them anymore... I have to assume they were breeding stock that were no longer producing and for whatever reason they thought abandoning them was the only answer."

None of them were particularly underweight, though all of them required dental care, had signs of Luxating Patella, and required vaccinations.

Heaven Can Wait has been caring for three of them, with two of them having been taken in by people who found them.

Hessel says backyard breeders often unload animals who are no longer profitable, but if this was one of those cases, it seems particularly callous.

"When an animal starts to look like it's going to cost them money, they tend to get rid of their stock fairly quickly, but even then, it does surprise me they wouldn't have put them up for sale on Kijiji or someplace like that. It's pretty dramatic to actually abandon them before a major snowstorm."

Unfortunately, it's a scenario that's become all too familiar to Hessel, who recalls two similar incidents from the last few months.

"In early January we got three chihuahuas. Same kind of thing and in a 10-kilometer radius of where these guys were found. Very unusual, three chihuahuas that are dropped, again, prior to a major storm in generally the same area. We were able to catch those with some help. Then in November, it was four Pomeranians that were found abandoned. Someone was able to catch two of those and we ended up with two. Again, all female. I've got to wonder, is this related? Whoever is breeding these dogs, do they have multiple breeds they're working with?"

She says the three Yorkies are recovering well, and while there's been lots of interest for adoption, it's likely going to be another three to four weeks before they're ready for rehoming.

"They are a flight risk, they are quite nervous to be picked up. They're starting to settle so I can see that there's a lot of potential, but anybody looking to adopt has to be aware that these aren't just sweet little dogs that will sit in your lap for hours. They need some training, they need housebreaking, they need some leash work, they need some basic commands."

For anyone looking to help out, Hessel is asking anyone with information on where the dogs came from to pass it forward.

"I'm asking that everyone that's interested in these dogs, keep their ears open because somebody does know something and I think it's very important that we find out at least an idea of where these animals came from... I'm really hoping that somebody comes forward and says 'Hey, I have a neighbour with all these small breed dogs and they make a lot of noise,' and hopefully we can get authorities to investigate it."