An Auckland woman has had nightmares since discovering a duffle bag with three puppies, all with their legs bound and mouths taped shut, drowned at her local river.
Warning: Contains graphic content about animal abuse.
Sophie Browning and her partner Ethan Endersby were at Elbow Landing Reserve in Waiuku - a spot they'd visited for years - yesterday afternoon.
Ms Browning said they visited the little river with their children, aged 2 and 4, to look for fish.
But yesterday they noticed something out of sorts - a duffle bag.
"We walked over and noticed a big duffle bag, my partner poked it and it was soft to the touch," she recalled, adding that they sent the children away after noticing the smell.
To their horror they opened the bag to find three dead puppies with their mouths duct taped closed and their legs tied up. She said they were stuffed into the bag, weighted down by a weight block from a railway carriage.
"It was really horrific," Ms Browning said.
"They were all tightly put in the bag. The SPCA, they see this kind of thing all the time, but they said it was a new level seeing the tape and weight."
Ms Browning believes the bag was thrown into the river at high tide and that they resurfaced again when the water washed out.
She said the dogs looked to be staffy-crosses, describing them as black with some having white paws or markings on their chest.
"I've actually had nightmares ... I've vomited and everything," Ms Browning said.
"It's one thing to to find puppies in a bag, but the weight and the tape, it tipped it over the edge."
She said it was a shock for something like this to happen in their area, and for someone who could have done such an act to be walking around the community.
SPCA Northern Region General Manager Jen Radich said, "it appears that these puppies have been intentionally drowned which means they mostly likely would have suffered. We take these types of incidents very seriously and it’s an active investigation.
"Unwanted animals are most often the result of an animal that has not been desexed and continues to have litter after litter, so we urge people to contact SPCA or their local vet to book an appointment. It’s a simple fix and goes a long way towards responsible pet ownership. Help is always available for low-cost desexing, please contact your SPCA.
"There are always people and organisations who can help and resorting to this kind of cruel act is absolutely unnecessary.
"These puppies were not newborn, they were at least 15 weeks old, so someone must know something. If anyone has any information on who may be responsible, please call SPCA."
The SPCA will be contacting police about the incident today.