The discovery of three dead puppies in a trash bin Monday morning led county Animal Care and Control officers to what they believe is the newborns' emaciated mother - a guard dog owned by a Royal Palm Beach company that has been the target of repeated complaints.
Officers seized the German shepherd mix that was guarding an industrial property in the county's north end.
They sent the bodies of the pups, which had been born within 24 to 48 hours, for a necropsy exam to determine how they died, Animal Care and Control Director Dianne Sauve said.
The presumed mother is the 22nd dog to be seized from its owner K9 International LLC, a guard dog company that has been cited by authorities at least 13 times.
An employee of the company hiring out the guard dogs called authorities Monday morning after spotting the puppies in a nearby trash bin, Sauve said. She declined to name the company the dog was guarding.
K9 International LLC could not be reached for comment Monday .
In September, animal care and control officers seized eight K9 International guard dogs in raids at four locations from Boynton Beach to Riviera Beach.
Most recently, a dog was confiscated from another site last week when it was found to be sick.
The dogs have had a bevy of health problems, from being sickly thin to being tick-infested, animal care and control officers report.
"The owner of the guard dog company maintains that he does not breed dogs and that his dogs are in healthy condition," Sauve said Monday .
Agustin "Gus" Artiles owns the company. His home in The Acreage was among the properties searched in the September sweep. Officers removed three dogs from his home.
The dog taken Monday was found "in poor health" and sharing a cage with a large male dog, Sauve said. She had recently given birth and was still lactating. If she is not the mother of the pups, then the questions remain of where the mother is and where this dog's puppies are, Sauve said.
"I'm surprised that we continue to see health problems from this company's dogs," Sauve said, noting that Wednesday her agency will be in court to seek custody of 20 of the company's previously confiscated animals.
Sauve said the agency will also seek custody of the dog taken last week and the presumed mother of the pups found Monday.