TOLEDO, Ohio -- Six bulldog-mix puppies stuffed into a suitcase and abandoned next to a trash bin won't be homeless for long.
Hundreds of people from around the country – some willing to camp out just to be first in line – have contacted an animal shelter in hopes of adopting the month-old pups.
It will be a few weeks before the puppies are ready for adoption so they're now doing just fine at an undisclosed foster home, said John Dinon, director of the Toledo Area Humane Society. He didn't want to reveal their whereabouts.
"As far as I'm concerned, they're in witness protection," he said.
The man accused of abandoning the three female and three male puppies appeared in court Friday and pleaded not guilty to abandoning the animals. A judge said he would appoint a public defender for Howard Davis of Toledo.
Authorities said a luggage tag with Davis' contact information on the suitcase led them to him. Passers-by had discovered the dogs last week in an alley soon after they were dumped, authorities said.
Davis, 53, could face jail time or a fine if he's convicted.
He would not comment to media outlets after the hearing. A Humane Society officer said that Davis told him that he had given the dogs to someone in Michigan and had not abandoned them, Dinon said.
Even though many of those who want to adopt the pups are from out of state, the shelter will only give them to people who apply at its office and go through the normal screening process "despite requests to put them on a plane and send them all over," Dinon said.
The shelter might announce a date when the pups will be available because there's so much interest. A few people even want to camp out, said Dinon, who wasn't sure whether police would allow that to happen.
"It's like Rolling Stones tickets," he said.
Those who won't get a shot at rescuing the pups should go to their own local shelter, Dinon said. "There's no shortage of cute puppies," he said.CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the puppies were abandoned at an airport. We regret the error.