May 12, 2010 09:13 PM

The woman easily could have run over the black bag as she drove her car down an alley in Middletown, Ohio, on April 28 – but she stopped cold when she saw something dark and moving.

That something was “a duffle bag containing five six-week-old puppies zip-shut so they could barely breathe,” Meg Stephenson, executive director of the local Animal Friends Humane Society, tells “She immediately called the police.”

The puppies, all German shepherd mixes, were brought to Animal Friends Humane Society by animal control Officer Liz Lucas, and put under quarantine by the shelter’s vet. Though they were discarded like trash, they are now in fine shape and don’t appear to have been abused in other ways.

“I think they are doing well, and we will be able to put them up for adoption in a week or so,” Stephenson tells “The puppies have become little bundles of energy. They are playful and happy, typical little puppies.”

Meanwhile, their onetime caretaker now faces jail time. She had dumped the five puppies from a litter of seven after giving one to her cousin and keeping one for herself. After a May 6 arrest, Beth Deaton of Middletown pleaded guilty to five counts of cruelty to companion animals, a first-degree misdemeanor, and five counts of abandoning animals, a second-degree misdemeanor.

She was sentenced to 90 days in jail and a suspended fine of $600, in exchange for 10 days of community service. She is also not able to own or live in a residence with animals for two years.

Roxanne, the 2-year-old mother of the puppies, who authorities believe was also dumped in a different part of town, was picked up April 23 and brought to the same shelter. She was not reunited with her brood since they were all too old to be nursed, but she is now headed for a forever home.

One of Roxanne’s pups will stay with Deaton’s cousin, while the remaining six will be up for adoption soon.

Stephenson is “thrilled” that Deaton has been held accountable.

“Acts of cruelty to animals should not go unpunished,” he says. “It is unacceptable to dump an animal, period.”

If you are interested in adopting one of the pups, call Animal Friends at (513)867-5727.

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