TOMS RIVER - A Jack Russell terrier who may have been dumped by her owner was rescued this week after delivering and caring for a litter of nine puppies in the woods.

Animal control officers are amazed at how well the puppies are doing despite how they came into the world. "Their body conditions are excellent," says Jim Bowen, of Toms River Animal Control. "Their body weight is very good, which tells me again mom was an excellent mother and nurturer."

A woman and her kids spotted the Toms River "Super Mom" dangerously close to a roadway with two of her puppies. Police were called and searched the woods. Animal control officer Dale Beley says they came across a den the dog made under pine branches to keep her babies safe.

"She went under and dug out," Beley says. "You can see two indentations under the trees, and when we found them, the puppies were huddled in those two holes there."

The puppies were living in the den for about four weeks, just feet from busy Hooper Avenue. "They basically revert to instinct," says Beley. "We don't know how long she was out here, but it had to be in our opinion, months."

Officers say the mother was able to protect the puppies from potential predators like raccoons, foxes and coyotes.

Animal officers say the mom was wearing a harness, a sign she was once someone's pet.  Like her pups, she was loaded with ticks. They say with rest and antibiotics, she should be OK. 

If an owner does not come forward, the puppies and mom should be available for adoption in a few weeks.