When three members of the Rivers Police Service in Manitoba, Canada, were called to a rural property for an unrelated issue in late August, the property owner told them about a litter of puppies that were tucked deep in a labyrinth of underground tunnels.

"We were told the mother had buried and created a tunnel underground to hide the puppies, possibly to protect them," Constable Brittany Roque tells MNN.

The mother, who belongs to the property owner, had given birth to the puppies about a month earlier. One puppy had managed to make its way out of the tunnel but seemed dehydrated, indicating that the mother might not be nursing. The owner was worried and asked the police for help.

Roque, along with and Constable Brett Seib and Auxiliary Cadet Jerra Green, decided it would be in the puppies' best interest to dig them out. They couldn't tell if the rest of the puppies were OK, if the mother could reach them or how long the tunnel actually was.

So they grabbed some shovels.

police pulling out a puppy The puppies were found in a maze of underground tunnels. (Photo: Rivers Police Service)

"After approximately two hours of strategic digging to ensure the tunnels would not collapse and suffocate the puppies, we were able to locate four more puppies," Roque says.

Rivers police hold the rescued puppies Seib, Green and Roque hold the rescued puppies. (Photo: Rivers Police Service)

While they dug, they found several tunnels ranging from 8-feet to 10-feet long. Eventually they figured out exactly which one of the maze-like tunnels held the puppies and they were able to bypass the rest in order to rescue the tiny pups more quickly.

Auxiliary Cadet Jerra Green rests after the rescue with the puppies. Green takes a break with the puppies. (Photo: Rivers Police Service)

Because the puppies were in need of immediate veterinary care, the owner surrendered them to police, wanting them to get help and go to good homes, Roque says.

All five puppies were taken to the vet and then into foster care, where they'll stay until they find new homes.

Constable Brett Seib cuddles one of the rescued pups. Seib cuddles one of the rescued pups. (Photo: Rivers Police Service)

One of the puppies — who was dubbed "Pickles" by Seib — was very dehydrated and had a severe eye infection. She was put on an IV and had to be fed with a syringe, says Roque, who has kept track of the puppies' progress.

"The puppies are currently all in foster care getting some much needed TLC and seem to be doing quite well since the rescue."

Constable Brittany Roque holds one of the tiny puppies. Everyone needs a hug, but especially this puppy, it seems. (Photo: Rivers Police Service)

Mary Jo DiLonardo covers a wide range of topics focused on nature, health, science and anything that helps make the world a better place.

Rescuing puppies all in a day's police work
Manitoba officers dig out pups from a maze of underground tunnels.