A man from Tallahatchie County, Mississippi is on trial this week for attempting to dispose of five tiny puppies by sucking them into an industrial vacuum hose at a car wash in June. The heinous act was captured by a surveillance camera at the Highway 32 car wash; the man was seen removing a box from his car and leaving it beside the vacuum unit before returning to put the vacuum hose inside the box.

Kim Tennyson, owner-operator of the car wash, found the box of puppies and called Doll Stanley, campaign director for In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals campaign.

The four-week-old puppies were taken to IDA’s Hope Animal Sanctuary.

“We didn’t expect the puppies to make it,” said Sharon Stone, operations director for the sanctuary. “Their hair was covered in a tar-like substance in addition to fleas and dirt. The two smallest puppies were extremely weak and barely able to move. Their eyes were matted shut.”

After some intensive care by the team at the Hope Animal Sanctuary, the puppies miraculously survived.

Stanley is an affiant in this week’s court case against the perpetrator, Joseph Thompson.

“These puppies would have died a horrific death if the vacuum hose had sucked them up,” said Stanley. “Animals are abused and abandoned in rural Mississippi at an alarming rate. Judges can deter would-be criminals by handing down the firm penalties for animal cruelty, and we are counting on Tallahatchie County Justice Court Judge Steve Ross to give the maximum sentence.”

Activists are hoping the judge will hand down the stiffest penalty possible for maliciously injuring dogs or cats, which for a first offense is a fine of $1000, up to six months in prison, or both.