FALLBROOK, Calif. -- San Diego County Animal Services officers are investigating a case of animal cruelty involving five puppies tied to a tree directly beneath a beehive.
Three of the dogs were found dead and the other two had suffered multiple bee stings.
The three dead puppies were described as a five-month-old Rottweiler that died from unknown causes and two five-month-old Jack Russell Terriers that died from strangulation, which most likely occurred as they tried to desperately escape the swarm of bees, said Department of Animal Services spokesman Dan DeSousa.
The two surviving puppies, both five months old, are a male Jack Russell terrier mix and a male Chihuahua mix.
It is unknown if the person who tied the puppies under the tree knew about the beehive.
The two puppies that survived were in critical condition for several days after being transported to a local emergency veterinary hospital.
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.
The puppies couldn't even blink their eyes immediately following the bee attack, but they 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.
Investigators 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.
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 County Department of Animal Services (DAS) Spirit Fund is covering the costs of their care.
Anyone interested in helping to pay for the continued care of these puppies can donate to the DAS Spirit Fund at www.sddac.com/donations.asp.
Three of the dogs were found dead by firefighters from Cal Fire responding to a "suspicious" fire May 31 about 25 feet from the tree. The two surviving dogs had sustained multiple bee stings and are in critical condition at an emergency veterinary clinic, officials said.
Investigators are trying to determine if someone tied the dogs to the tree and then abandoned them. Cal Fire is investigating the cause of the fire.
A Rottweiler and two Jack Russell terriers were found dead. A Jack Russell terrier and a Chihuahua mix survived but each was stung dozens of times. All five dogs were estimated to be about 5 months old.