An animal rights group is pledging a reward for information that leads to the arrest of whoever stuffed 14 puppies in a garbage bag and left it in a Dumpster behind a Riverdale store.

Meanwhile, police said they are wading through numerous tips they are hoping could point them toward a suspect. The puppies were discovered Tuesday when a woman at Hancock Fabric was taking garbage out and heard some whining. She asked a co-worker for help.

"They got in the Dumpster and pulled out a large, heavy bag and when they opened it they discovered 13 dead puppies and one live one that was whining," Riverdale Police Lt. James Ebert said Wednesday.

Police said the puppies, mixed-breed Jack Russell Terriers, appeared to have died from either exposure to the cold or from suffocation in the bag. The surviving puppy, named "Precious," was taken home by the woman who made the discovery.

"It appears to be healthy," Ebert said.

Police said they do not have many solid leads in tracking down whoever left the puppies to die. The garbage bag the puppies were stuffed in was wrapped in a sheet, and when the bag was cut open it destroyed any fingerprints investigators could have retrieved.

Phone tips haven't led to much, either.

"We've got a fair amount, but nothing that is substantiated at this moment," Ebert said.

Whoever dumped the puppies could face as many as 13 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail on each count.

The Tuscon-based Animal Defense Council pledged a $500 reward for information that leads to a culprit. Anyone with information is asked to call Riverdale police at 801-394-6616.


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