Authorities asked the public Friday for help in determining who tied five puppies to a tree underneath a beehive in a North County field last week, leading to the deaths of three of the canines after the bees swarmed and attacked them.
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Firefighters found the incapacitated dogs while responding to a small grass fire in the open lot off the 41200 block of De Luz Road in Fallbrook about noon on May 31, according to the county Department of Animal Services.
The Cal Fire crews were able to quickly douse the flames, which scorched a roughly 20-by-20-foot area about 25 feet from where the canines were tied up.
Three 5-month-old puppies died at the scene, animal services Lt. Dan DeSousa said. Two Jack Russell terriers had choked to death, likely as they tried to escape the attacking bees. The third, a Rottweiler, died of unknown causes, according to DeSousa.
The two surviving animals, a Jack Russell mix and a Chihuahua, were in critical condition. The dogs -- named Woody and Buzz, respectively -- have since been receiving "around-the-clock care," DeSousa said.
"Both dogs were stung dozens of times, and due to its critical medical condition, one of the puppies underwent a blood transfusion earlier this week," he said.
Personnel with the county animal-services agency are trying to determine who tied the canines up in the open lot and why. The dogs' owners, a woman and her 16-year-old daughter who live next to the field, have told investigators the animals were in their back yard when they left for work and school that day, according to DeSousa.
DeSousa said investigators don't know if the person who put the dogs under the tree knew the hive was there.
For several minutes, 10News crews observed the beehive, which was about five feet above the ground. Dozens of bees were seen and heard flying around the tree.
The 16-year-old girl, identified as Eva Galeana, told 10News neighbors had complained about the dogs. She said she was told by investigators a witness has blamed her for the incident.
"I would never tie them up. I don't know why someone would say that I had," said Galeana.
The origin of the small vegetation fire also remains under investigation. The blaze definitely was "human caused," but a ruling on whether it was an intentional act of arson is pending, said Cal Fire Capt. Mike Mohler.
The surviving puppies -- who couldn't even blink their eyes immediately following the bee attack, due to the amount of venom they had absorbed -- have been showing signs of progress, according to DeSousa.
"They were wagging their tails some yesterday, so that's always a good sign," he said Friday afternoon.
Both will have to undergo further medical care before being available for adoption, DeSousa said.
County officials asked anyone with information on the incident to call animals-services personnel at 619-767-2624.
Because her family could not provide the necessary medical care, Galeana relinquished them to animal services. She said she took the dogs in as strays.
Animal services' Spirit Fund is covering the costs of the dogs' care.
Anyone interested in helping to pay for the continued care of the injured puppies can donate to the Department of Animal Services' Spirit Fund at www.sddac.com/donations.asp
Copyright Do you have more information about this story? Click here to contact usCopyright 2012 by 10News.com. City News Service contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.