The RSPCA has launched an investigation after nine dead puppies were found buried in a cardboard box.
The animal corpses were found by police in Dallow Road, Luton, who stumbled upon the shallow grave on Sunday last week.
They found the blood-spattered puppies individually wrapped in newspaper and sealed inside the box with black duct tape.
It is believed they are all from the same litter and are all one-week old “brindle-and-white bull-breed types”.
The newspaper they were wrapped in was dated November 27 but it is thought they had been dead for less than a week.
RSPCA inspector Stephanie Law said they could not rule out the possibility that the terrified animals were buried alive.
She said: “This was an incredibly disturbing discovery and we are anxious to get to the bottom of what happened here.
“We do not know how these tiny little puppies died but many of them were splattered with blood and may well have suffered before they died.
“We can’t rule out the possibility that they were buried alive, which is a really horrific thought.
“It is difficult to know for sure how long they had been there but judging by the state of decomposition of the bodies the puppies had only been there for less than a week.
“We are also very keen to find out where their mother is, and check that her welfare is being catered for.”