AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department tells KXAN its Animal Cruelty Unit is looking into a report of several dogs being abandoned in the parking lot of a southwest Austin grocery store.

Cars parked in the Randalls parking lot off William Cannon Drive where witnesses believe dogs were abandoned next to a wooded area. (Photo: Leslie Maguire)

While Austin police couldn’t share any further details right now, three people present that day tell KXAN it happened in the early evening on Jan. 7 in the parking lot of the Randalls store off of South MoPac Expressway near West William Cannon Drive.

Witnesses reported seeing someone release a crate full of several small dogs, many of which went running to a nearby wooded area. A group of concerned neighbors has been working to locate these dogs and find them homes.

Leslie Maguire explained she was in the Randalls parking lot that evening in a car with her friend, Cat Young, as they were running errands. She recalls they drove around to get away from a crowded section and saw two cars parked at the far end of the lot.

Maguire said she saw a man lifting a large dog crate out of his vehicle and letting several dogs run out of the crate. The witnesses told KXAN neither the man with the crate nor the other people around him went after the dogs as they ran away.

A man holds open a crate in the parking lot of the Randalls off of William Cannon. Witnesses allege this man released several dogs from this crate who ran into the wooded area nearby. (Photo: Leslie Maguire)

Maguire and her friend assumed the dogs were being let out for exercise or to go to the bathroom, but then noticed the dogs were running toward a nearby wooded area.

She recalled seeing five dogs released from the crate, all of which were small and either chihuahuas or terriers.

Other people who spotted the dogs running in the parking lot began to gather near Maguire to find out what was going on.

“Gizmo” the chihuahua was found abandoned in a grocery store parking lot in Austin. The day after she was rescued, she gave birth to four puppies. (Photo: Leslie Maguire)

Frances Maldonado was in the Randalls parking lot and grew concerned when she saw two small dogs race by. Maldonado came across Maguire, and they went in separate directions trying to track down the dogs. They found a female chihuahua and were unable to get ahold of two more dogs they had seen running in the wooded area near MoPac.

Maguire took home the chihuahua, who gave birth to four puppies the next day. She also posted details about what happened to social media and other Austinites volunteered to search the area for the other dogs.

The search effort has found two more dogs so far, Maguire explained. One of those dogs is now living with Maldonado.

A male dog was found by community members searching in the wooded area near a Randalls grocery store in Austin. (Photo: Frances Maldonado)

Maldonado said the dog she has taken in was dirty, had very long nails and had clearly not been brushed.

“Kudos to everybody, that was a big team effort, ” Maldonado said, noting at one point as many as eight people were out searching for the dogs.

Maldonado and Maguire have contacted Austin police to investigate this further.

For now, Maguire is ecstatic to be caring for the newborn puppies (“they are the sweetest little things you nearly ever saw,” she said.)

“With all this junk going on in the world, it sure is nice to have a feel-good story,” she noted.

A spokesperson told KXAN she had spoken with the director of the Randalls location, who said the store was not made aware of this incident.

“In the event we are contacted by the police, we would make every effort to cooperate with the investigation,” the spokesperson said.

Austin Animal Services told KXAN these kinds of cases can be the responsibility of different departments depending on the situation, so it’s best to call 3-1-1 to report the situation, and if it needs to be addressed immediately, APD will be called.

“Gizmo” the chihuahua nurses her newborn puppies. Gizmo was found abandoned in an Austin grocery store parking lot. (Photo: Leslie Maguire)