They are so young their eyes have not yet opened. But these four puppies have already suffered more than most dogs will in their lives.
Still attached to their umbilical cords, the dogs had been thrown into a bag with a paving slab and hurled into a canal in Sheffield.
The cold water should have killed them - but in fact, it saved them.
These tiny pups, which are no more than a week old, are lucky to be alive after being dumped in a bin liner and thrown into an icy canal
The weather has been so bitter that the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal froze over on Monday and the ice failed to break.
As the puppies lay whimpering in the bag, passers-by heard them and called
But the charity's officers couldn't reach them as they were 20ft from the bank.
They had to call the fire brigade and the pups were hauled to safety with nets.
Bruce, Barry, Jacob and Gareth, thought to be rottweilers, are so small they can fit in your hand.
The cruel act has been condemned by the RSPCA officers searching for those responsible.
Matt Bell, RSPCA chief inspector for South Yorkshire, said: 'This was a horrendous act of cruelty against four tiny puppies and we're urging anyone who can help us find the person responsible to get in touch.
RSPCA officers said the pups only survived after their weighted-down bag failed to break through ice on the canal
'These puppies were treated in the most callous way, thrown into the river in a black bin liner and weighted down with a paving slab.
'It was just fortunate that the ice held otherwise they'd have died.'
Kate Payton, another RSPCA officer who helped care for the pups when they were brought into a Sheffield shelter, said the ice saved the puppies from death.
She said: 'The animals survived because the bag did not break through the ice.
'The pups have been amazingly lucky that the paving slab didn't force the ice to crack. If it had they would have drowned almost immediately in the freezing water.'
Chris Lally, of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: 'The puppies were so small they could fit in the palm of our hands.
'They were obviously extremely cold and we did our best to keep them warm until they were taken by the RSPCA officers to be checked over by vets.'
The four pups are currently being looked after by foster parents who are feeding them every two hours.
RSPCA officers said the pups would be ready for adoption in around two months time.
Pictured: The newborn puppies who survived being thrown into an icy canal | Mail Online