Three puppies have died after being dumped in a lay-by in a cardboard box on one of the hottest days of the year.
The spaniels who were believed to be around eight weeks old, were found by a cyclist in Rochford, Essex, on Saturday as temperatures soared to 32C.
The dogs were spotted when one “peeked” out of the box.
One of the puppies was already dead as a cyclist spotted them, and the two others died as they were being treated at a local vets.
The RSPCA’s chief inspector for Essex, Samantha Garvey, said the animals died from parvovirus – a contagious dog illness that causes dehydration through severe vomiting and diarrhoea.
It usually affects dogs under six months old, who have not been vaccinated.
She called the case “horrific,” adding it was “possible” the animals were from a puppy farm.
She added: “I would just ask that people really do their research and not agree to buy any animals who they have reason to believe are sick.”