It was 7 p.m. and cold outside Derek Holt's Northwest Baltimore apartment building when he saw several puppies in a plastic container on the sidewalk.
"I just saw them there," said Holt, 18. "I heard them crying. I was going to put them in the apartment because I knew they were cold and I wanted to get them some heat."
Holt said a woman stopped him and told him, 'Leave them there, the Animal Control is going to come.'"
That advice proved fatal.
Six terrier-mix puppies - three brown, three black, all 2 to 3 weeks old - were found frozen to death Wednesday in the 3000 block of Spaulding Ave.
Yesterday, Baltimore Animal Control investigators said they were looking for the puppies' owner.
Animal officials said they got a complaint Tuesday evening - a night when temperatures dipped into the mid-20s - through the city's 311 non-emergency line. The call was categorized as "animals at risk," a lesser emergency than "animals in danger," which could have prompted a quick response.
"It did not seem urgent when it came through the 311 system," said Robert L. Anderson, director of the Baltimore City Bureau of Animal Control.
About 10 the next morning, an animal control officer found the six dead puppies huddled in a 41-by-21-inch plastic container, partly covered with a black garbage bag.
The officer snapped pictures and asked neighbors for help.
"This is a case that rankled everybody that saw the pictures and saw the puppies," Anderson said. "You just look at it and you say how can anybody be so heartless. That sort of makes anybody who loves animals a little bit angry."
Authorities are hoping that a $1,500 reward will lead them to whoever is responsible.
"In Baltimore City, when people won't even talk when their neighbors are shot, they're not going to want to speak up for six puppies," Anderson said.
"So we're hoping that this monetary amount will loosen their lips. They don't even have to leave their name. What more can I say? We've got to do something," he said.