A mother Jack Russel terrier and her five week-old puppies were reunited on Wednesday after Toms River police and animal control officers worked together to corral the family after a close call with Hooper Avenue traffic.

The officers first went to the area of Hooper Avenue and Indian Hill Road after a woman and her two children spotted two very small puppies walking dangerously close to the roadway with what appeared to be their mother, said police spokesman Ralph Stocco.

The woman and her children were able to retrieve the two pups, but the mother ran into the woods, Stocco said.

Toms River Animal Control Officers Dale Beley, Tom Manolio, and Stacy Garabics arrived and took custody of the puppies while police officer Eric Divone searched the wooded area for the mother.

Divone eventually found a makeshift den, dug into the dirt in the woods about 50 feet from the sidewalk beside Hooper Avenue, where the canine family had been living. There, he found seven more puppies, but no sign of their mother, Stocco said.

Unable to find the mother, officers set up a humane trap near the den, and five hour later, the mother stepped inside.

"The family was generally in good health and was reunited," said Stocco.

They were evaluated and treated by a veterinarian, he said, and are now housed in the newly built Toms River Animal Shelter at 235 Oak Avenue.

"A search is being conducted to locate the owner of the dogs, however if no one claims them they will be placed up for adoption after a minimum wait of approximately three weeks," said Jim Bowen, Facility Director at the animal shelter.

The mother appears to be a Jack Russell terrier and the puppies, which are approximately five weeks old, are of an unknown mix, Stocco said.

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