An animal charity is investigating after four puppies were abandoned just metres from a rescue centre in Brighton.
Only one of the puppies survived, and the RSPCA is now appealing for information about where the puppies had come from.
Passers-by contacted the RSPCA after they found one collie puppy and two lurcher pups shivering in a gateway on Braypool Lane at 9pm on Wednesday (January 17).
They found a fourth lurcher puppy, who had died, underneath a pile of sawdust, that the other three had been huddling round trying to keep warm.
Julie Parsons, RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO), was called to the scene and rushed the puppies to the vets.
She said: “These poor pups were so ill, one had already died and the other three were suffering from parvovirus. We think they are all aged between nine and 12 weeks old.
“They were all thin and very cold. From the way the poor dead puppy was underneath a heap of sawdust it looks as though these poor little mites were literally tipped out of a box and left there.
“It is so hard to understand why anyone would dump sick and dying puppies in the middle of the night in this way when they clearly needed help. The fact they were just up the road from the RSPCA centre is just heartbreaking.
“The three surviving puppies were rushed to the vets but were so poorly that sadly one died not long after they arrived for emergency treatment. The following morning vets found the last lurcher puppy was so severely ill that the kindest option was to put her to sleep. They are now fighting to save Lolly, the little collie puppy.”
The RSPCA said parvovirus is highly contagious and can often be a fatal virus for dogs. It mainly affects puppies between six weeks and six months of age - often after they are weaned too early or stressed.
Anyone with information about where these puppies may have come from is urged to contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.
To find out more about the RSPCA, visit: www.rspca.org.uk