She Was Cleaning The Backyard And When She Lifted Up An Old Mattress She Found 5 Puppies

Back in 2017, Craig McGettrick and a coworker were busy clearing the waste out of an English garden when they chanced upon an old mattress. As luck would have it, they found five tiny, cute puppies inside the mattress. Now, it could have been his good fortune or bad that what he thought to be puppies were something far removed from them.


Speaking to The Dodo, McGettrick mentioned, “Those were probably the only two options I knew of. We thought someone had dumped them knowing we were going to remove the rubbish.” Being a Samaritan at heart, McGettrick decided to do the right thing and sent them to an animal rescue center after placing them in a cardboard box. After dropping the animals off, he also posted the pictures on Facebook. [1]

The photos uploaded by McGettrick of the supposed puppies reached the attention of Martin Hemmington, the founder of the National Fox Welfare Society. In a Facebook post, the Founder wrote, “We were contacted by a lovely lady called Beccie through our Facebook Page; Beccie had sent a few photos asking if the babies in the photos were indeed fox cubs. We confirmed they certainly were. Beccie advised us that they had been taken to a rescue center in Liverpool mistakenly as puppies, not fox cubs.

The five fox cubs that Craig thought were puppies at first.
Image Credits: Craig McGettrick

A local rescuer associated with the Freshfields Animal Rescue, Paul McDonald, also mentioned, “Fox cubs don’t initially look like foxes when they are cubs, so it’s common for people to mistake them for dog puppies. They are brown in color as opposed to the red, ginger color of adults.” The Fox Man, as McDonald is commonly referred to, stated that the mother fox could have been using the mattress as a den for her children. 

Fox Cubs Masquerading As Puppies Were Rescued From A Mattress

Speaking about the puppies-foxes conundrum, McDonald commented, “Vixens leave their cubs all the time whilst they are in the den, and as they get older they’ll begin to explore their surroundings more and more, and become less dependent on mum as they get older.” Since the fox cubs were absolutely newborn, they hadn’t had the opportunity to leave the den yet. Following this discovery, Hemmington decided to get in touch with McDonald and asked the latter to pick the cubs up from the center where they had been placed in. Since The Fox Man wasn’t in the area, he decided to send one of his volunteers to pick the cubs up for him. Once the fox cubs were in his possession, he did the only thing he could think of- went back to the garden and tried to reunite the cubs masquerading as puppies with their mother. 

McDonald said, “I didn’t give the cubs any milk in order for them to be hungry so they’d cry out and call for their mum, which they did. I put them around the same place they were found, as I knew the mum would be looking for them, and she’d be checking the place she last had them.” At around 4 o’clock the very same day, McDonald decided to place the cardboard box that had the cubs in the garden. He also conveniently placed a hot water bottle in the box in order to keep the babies warm for the mother. After preparing the cubs thoroughly, McDonald settled in to wait for the mother. And soon- she came. 

The five cubs were placed in a box, from where their mother took them back.
Image Credits: Paul McDonald

After The Inadvertent Mistake Was Discovered, The Fox Man Managed To Reunite The Cubs With The Mother

Initially, she took just a single cub with her and stayed away for well over an hour. McDonald said, “I believe once she’d picked the first one up and I knew the others were safe in the box, she waited until it got dark to get the rest as she must not have felt safe moving the cubs in daylight.” After it got dark, she started returning for her cubs- and by 7 pm, the mother fox had taken all of her cubs with her to safety. Hemmington later uploaded on Facebook, “Paul texted me a photo of the empty box. All through this, I was letting Beccie and Craig know and everyone was so pleased that the cubs were back where they belonged- with mum!

Needless to say, Paul McDonald was quite elated that the cubs who were getting passed off as puppies were returned to their mother. “It made me feel ecstatic that the cubs went back to their mum, as it would have been a tragedy not only for the cubs not being brought up by their own mother but for the mother to lose her cubs. This is without a doubt the best kind of rescue in my line of work when nature is allowed to take its own course.


  1. Man Finds Stray ‘Puppies’ — But Quickly Realizes His Mistake.” The Dodo.  Elizabeth Claire Alberts. April 13, 2017