A HEARTBREAKING photograph of dogs so neglected they looked like huge balls of matted wool moved a News reader to raise hundreds of pounds for them.
The nine animals were found abandoned near Bishop’s Waltham last month.
A mother and eight puppies, they were in such a filthy state that at first rescuers had no idea which breed they were.
They turned out to be poodle crosses and when animal lover Maureen Mackey heard about their plight she set out to help.
She said: ‘When I first saw them, it was awful.
‘I have two rescue dogs myself that I got from the RSPCA so I care a lot for abandoned animals.
‘I wanted to do anything I could to help so set about fundraising in the community.’
The pensioner from Lee-on-the-Solent started walking along the seafront asking fellow dog-walkers if they wanted to donate.
Businesses got involved and put charity buckets on their counters.
In just a week, more than £300 has been raised – much more than Mrs Mackey expected.
She added: ‘I thought it was going to be a small-time thing.
‘But people were so generous, I had to get my friend Sheila Gillies to help me with all the donations.
‘We have raised £300 already and the Blue Bird Cafe and Bayside Cabin are still collecting.’
Chris Dent, owner of Solent Pet Supplies, donated a big dog bed for the animals and the Tesco Express and Southern Co-operative stores gave dog food.
The charity needed a washing machine which Mrs Mackey has managed to get hold of.
She plans to hand over the cheque to the Stubbington Ark over the next few days.
‘We are still collecting donations through the Bluebird Cafe and Bayside Cabin,’ she said.
‘I just want to raise as much as possible for these poor animals who need a lot of care.’
The dogs are being cared for at Stubbington Ark and two other shelters, where volunteers have cleaned them up.
Winchester City Council is trying to track down their previous owner.