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Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at

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Landfill puppies: a terrible story with a happy ending

Natasha, a yellow Lab, has become an adoptive mother to three puppies dumped at the King George County landfill earlier this week. Photo by Robert A. Martin

Bridgid Maciejewski and Stephanie Kline, Natasha's owner, wonder how many puppies the yellow Lab will have when she gives birth to her own litter.

Clark, named after Superman, gets a nuzzle from his adoptive mother.

Three puppies that survived being dumped at the King George County landfill—in a black trash bag with water in it—are being cared for by an adoptive mother.

 A yellow Labrador named Natasha, who’s pregnant with her own litter, “took to the puppies like they were her own,” said Bridgid Maciejewski.

She is a solid waste inspector for King George County and works at the landfill. About 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, she got the call about abandoned puppies.  “Big Mike” Watts had found a bag in a Dumpster at the Sealston Convenience Center, which is near the landfill entrance.

As a citizen was getting ready to throw a sofa into the trash, Watts heard something crying. He thought a cat might be trapped inside. He and the citizen fished around and found a black bag, wiggling.

Inside were nine puppies, umbilical cords still attached. Maciejewski guessed they were born no more than a day or two earlier.

 Five of the puppies were dead already.

 Watts,  who’s 6 feet 4 inches tall, was visibly shaken by the sight.

“It took a lot outta me,” Watts said. “I didn’t think anybody would do anything like that.”

He and other Waste Management workers agreed to call Maciejewski, who’s taken home stray animals from the landfill, nursed them back to health and found homes for them.

 Maciejewski and her daughter, Allie, dried the puppies and rubbed them to keep them warm. They spent the night, feeding them bottles every two hours.

The next day,  Maciejewski was on the way to the veterinarian when another puppy died, leaving only three survivors.

Because the pups are so young,  Maciejewski thought the best solution would be to find a doggy wet nurse.

She placed an online classified and connected with Stephanie Kline of Spotsylvania County.

“I’m a big-time animal lover, I just wanted them to live,” Kline said.

She offered the services of her 5-year-old yellow Lab, Natasha, who is expected to deliver her  fourth litter next week. Kline has no doubts she’ll accept her own offspring with the same devotion she’s shown the landfill puppies, which Maciejewski jokingly called “red-headed stepchildren.”

“She’s an amazing dog,” Kline said, as Natasha licked, nuzzled and guarded the youngsters. “She’s like a person inside.”

Landfill district manager Thomas Cue said the rescued puppies—and the manner in which they were dumped—was the talk of the landfill.

“I have a bunch of pretty tough guys up on that hill, a lot of them are hunters, and they were all so pissed,” he said. “We want to catch the guy who did this.”

King George officials are investigating the case and ask anyone with information to call King George Animal Control at 540/775-2120 or the Sheriff’s Office at 540/775-2049.

All calls are confidential.

Meanwhile,  Maciejewski plans to keep the puppies under Natasha’s care until they’re five weeks old, then find them homes.

Maciejewski and her daughter have given what they believe are appropriate names.

 The mostly white male is named Tony after Iron Man, while the white male with tan spots is Clark, after Superman.

The female, white with black spots on her back and brown smudges on her nose, is Selena, after Catwoman.

“We named them after super heroes because they’ve been through so much,”  Maciejewski said.

Cue had another suggestion for names: Compactor, Tipper and Rail.