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Some of the 38 small dogs left at an animal shelter in Richmond, B.C., overnight on Aug. 30, 2013.

Courtesy the City of Richmond

Staff at a Richmond, B.C., animal shelter arrived at work Friday morning to find a stack of rusty cages and kennels outside their building. Inside were 38 small dogs, with two or three in each cage.

Ted Townsend, spokesperson for the City of Richmond, said the dogs were left sometime between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., and wasn't sure whether they had been there during a late-night thunderstorm that dumped more than 10 millimetres of rain on the city.

"The dogs appear to be generally healthy, in good shape and well cared for," Mr. Townsend said. "The RCMP did attend, and they've opened a file. We will try to assert whether there's a rightful owner that actually wants these animals, but barring that, it's most likely we'll proceed with making these animals available for adoption."

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Mr. Townsend said the dogs seem to be a mix of Yorkies, terriers, and chihuahuas, and are currently being looked over by a veterinarian. He said some appear to be older, but he wasn't aware of any young puppies. "They're popular breeds and fairly friendly, and so we don't anticipate too much challenge in finding homes for these dogs," he said.

The shelter where they were dropped off, the Richmond Animal Protection Society, has been operated by the City of Richmond since 2007 and is a no-kill shelter, meaning animals aren't euthanized if a home can't be found for them.

It isn't yet known whether the dogs could have come from a puppy mill, or if they're even from the Richmond area. Mr. Townsend said he's never heard of so many dogs being dropped off at once in Richmond. "You might get a litter of puppies come in at one time, but certainly, to get 38 dogs like this is uncommon," he said.

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