Four puppies believed to have been purposefully covered in black tar and left on the sweltering ground are slowly recovering from what police call deliberate abuse.

The puppies, which were found in Iasi, a city in the north-eastern Romanian region of Moldavia, allegedly were tortured by a local before being found in critical condition, Central European News (CEN) reported.

“The four puppies were left in the middle of the road in freshly poured tar after construction works,” Catalin Pavaliu, head of Sky Foundation, an animal welfare agency, told CEN. “The poor puppies were struggling to get out of it.”

Two of the puppies had up to 80 percent of their bodies covered in tar, which veterinarians were only able to remove through a painful procedure.

“One puppy was in a [particularly] bad shape,” Pavaliu told CEN. “He had his right eye, his snout and part of his mouth covered.”

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Complaints have been filed with County Police and the Department of Animal Police from the Sanitary Veterinary Directorate in hopes that the suspect will be caught.

The puppies reportedly will be available for adoption by next week.