MONROE, N.C. -- A dog and her five puppies are now resting comfortably inside a foster home after being rescued from an underground drainage ditch in Union County over the weekend.

Danielle Spuler of South Charlotte Dog Rescue learned of Ruby back in January. They had tried to trap her, but she's a stray and was afraid of people.

"She was very scared," Spuler said. "It was obvious she had been on her own for awhile."

A volunteer was feeding Ruby in hopes of gaining her trust to bring her inside, but Ruby didn't want to go anywhere near anyone. They then learned Ruby was going to have puppies.

When Ruby didn't appear to her normal feeding spots, volunteers knew she had gone somewhere to have her puppies.

Volunteers went searching and found Ruby and the puppies in a ditch in the neighborhood.

"The babies had to eat," Spuler said.

So a young boy climbed into the pipe and rescued all five puppies. The puppies were bottle fed.

Spuler said volunteers spotted Ruby watching from a distance, keeping a close eye on her puppies.

A humane trap was set to help get Ruby reunited with her puppies. Spuler said they only removed the babies to be fed after several hours of trying to lure Ruby into the humane trap with them.

"We put a blanket in the bottom with food. She is so smart. She pulled the blanket all the way out and just ate the food," Ruby said.

Ruby was eventually trapped overnight Sunday and is now reunited with her puppies at a foster home. Spuler said they hated to do it knowing Ruby would be frantic, but they left the blanket with the scent of the puppies in the trap. Eventually Ruby went in.

"We'll have her traveling vet come to see her to keep her calm," Spuler said.

Ruby is an Australian Sheperd mix and is approximately 1-year-old.

South Charlotte Dog Rescue's mission is to educate residents about dog rescue and the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Anyone wanting to adopt the puppies can contact South Charlotte Dog Rescue Group and apply to bring one home.

It will be several weeks before they can be placed with a family.