PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Families say they adopted puppies from a local animal rescue that were underfed, sick, covered in feces and hours away from death.

The families say they adopted the animals from Four Paws Elkhound Rescue.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller uncovered state agents launched an investigation into the rescue organization.

“So we’ve been looking on Facebook for months to rescue a dog and we found these golden retriever/lab mixes,” Kaylie Schroyer said.

Schroyer spotted a litter of seven fluffy puppies, advertised as “up for adoption” on Four Paws Elkhound Rescue’s Facebook page: Peyton, Piper, Percy, Preston, Parker, Paisley and Penelope.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

She picked Peyton, hoping he’d quickly become a best friend to her older dog.

But said something didn’t feel right during the foster home pick-up.

“She wouldn’t even let us inside,” said Schroyer. “She brought the wrong dog out once and she brought our dog out. I don’t know how many dogs she had inside. When we picked up the dog, it was covered in poop and it looked like blood.”

When she got home, Schroyer immediately put Peyton, who was just two pounds, in the sink for a warm bath.

She said that’s when it became clear something was definitely wrong.

Peyton quickly deteriorated and had discharge in his eyes and nose. Schroyer claims the owner of Four Paws Elkhound Rescue, Georgeann Reid, didn’t want to hear it.

“She basically said take him home and feed him baby food to see if that helps. And the dog was limp,” Schroyer said. “He could not go home with me.”

Peyton died the same day he was brought home.

KDKA learned Four Paws Elkhound Rescue pulled Peyton and six other puppies from shelters in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

It’s an area that spans seven municipalities with a population of 750,000.

The shelters take in 30,000 animals each year, according to the Palm Valley Animal Society.

It’s also why, according to Texas rescuers KDKA interviewed, these shelters are known to be riddled with disease and euthanize at staggering rates.

So why did Four Paws Elkhound Rescue pull from a high-risk area and not inform potential adopters at the immediate onset of symptoms?

That’s the question Stacie Galati keeps asking.

“Why would you do this to kids? Why would you let them take an already dying dog and love it for it to pass away five days later?” Galati said.

Just two weeks after the litter arrived in Pittsburgh, only one of the seven puppies is still alive.

KDKA confirmed the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture launched an investigation following our call and their conversations with the impacted families.

KDKA also learned humane agents out of Westmoreland County opened an investigation and are looking into search warrants.

Galati picked Piper from the same litter as a present for her 12-year-old daughter Arianna. Piper wound up at the vet just one hour after meeting her new family.

“And they told us the dog was in critical condition,” Galati said. “And my first instinct was, How? Why?”

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Piper died days later in Arianna’s arms.

“She’s in a better place and not suffering in pain anymore,” said Arianna Galati.

The only living puppy, Percy, is back home from the vet.

He’s now named Ace and his owner sent KDKA’s Meghan Schiller a copy of his lab work.

Ace tested positive for Giardia, causing malnutrition and digestive issues. He also tested positive for canine herpes, a virus nicknamed “fading puppy syndrome.”

Lastly, he tested positive for Bordetella, a bacteria associated with upper respiratory infections.

Ace’s owner told KDKA she sent the results to Reid.

We reached out several times, on the phone and through social media, asking Reid for answers.

She said, “no comment” just before air time on Thursday.

However, Reid did post a message to the rescue’s Facebook page saying, “For all you haters out there, really? I’ve been through enough.”

She continued, saying, “Who’s going to pay my vet bills? I am not responsible for the sick dogs.”

Meghan Schiller