A box of five puppies was found abandoned outside an animal shelter in South Carolina.

Kay Hyman from Charleston Animal Society in North Charleston said the young dogs were dropped off in a small box at 6:40 AM on December 27 next to the gate to their facility. “We have no idea what would prompt a person to not come into the shelter with these pups during our working hours,” Hyman told Newsweek.

The abandonment came after a night of heavy storms in the area and the puppies had likely been recently separated from their mother. “It was a chilly morning and raining and they were scared and hungry,” Hyman said. “Pups this age have to be kept warm and are fed approximately every two hours by their mom.”

A litter of abandoned puppies.
The abandoned puppies. The dogs were left in freezing conditions and in need of food.
Charleston Animal Society

While the timing of the incident might point to the notion of the dogs being discarded as unwanted Christmas presents, the sad reality is that shelters across the U.S. are being inundated with pet surrenders of every shape and size, regardless of the time of year.

Each year 6.3 million pets enter U.S. shelters, which is an average of 17,260 a day, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The number of dogs and cats taken in by pet shelters hit 46,807 during January 2023, an increase of 1,744 compared with January 2022, the 24Pet “Shelter Watch Report” found.

Around 920,000 surrendered animals are euthanized every year. Shelters are striving to minimize euthanasia rates by promoting adoption campaigns, spaying and neutering programs, and behavior rehabilitation.

Commenting on the current situation, Charleston Animal Society President and CEO Joe Elmore told Newsweek: “It’s easy in this lifesaving cause of sheltering animals to become emotional seeing the abused and sick animals that arrive at our doors.

“But to be there for the animals we discipline ourselves to look at those animals as a gift, not focusing on the painful path they endured in reaching us, but rather on the journey ahead that we can build for them.

“That is why we render no judgment of those who brought them here; we are just thankful that they are in our hands now so that we can construct a loving and thriving life for them.”

The litter of abandoned puppies.
The litter of abandoned puppies. The dogs have been given names and in time will be ready for adoption.
Charleston Animal Society

Plans are already in motion for these five puppies, who have been named Coke, Root Beer, Dr Pepper, Cheerwine and Sprite

“Currently, they are snug and warm with full bellies in their foster homes,” Hyman said. “We separated them into a set of three and two. It’s better for the pups. They get attention and learn great behavior from each other.

“They will come back to the shelter weekly for check-ins with our team to monitor weight, issues with their health and updates on vaccines.”

In the meantime, like many shelters, Charleston Animal Society is appealing for donations to help continue their work and provide the treatments necessary to give dogs like Coke, Root Beer, Dr Pepper, Cheerwine and Sprite the best chance at a second shot at life.

Hyman explained: “After they are cared for by our team and foster families, these pups will be completely vaccinated, microchipped, spayed or neutered and ready for new homes.”

She is confident that, with the right care, they could be perfect for anyone willing to show them the love and care they deserve.

Correction 12/29/23, 2:48 a.m. ET: An earlier version identified Charleston Animal Society as being in North Carolina rather than South Carolina.