Italian rescuers were overjoyed to find three wriggling puppies in the rubble of a resort hotel buried by an avalanche.
Firefighters described the Abruzzo sheepdogs as mixtures of "wolves and clouds."
The cream-colored pups gave officials hope there may be more human survivors in the ruins of the four-star Hotel Rigopiano, which was deluged in snow last Wednesday.
A rescuer called the discovery “an important sign of life.”
But the body of a woman was also found Monday, bringing the death toll to seven. There are 22 people missing.
“It’s a race against time. We know we need to go fast, but it’s not an easy working environment,” said fire service spokesman Luca Cari, according to Agence France-Presse.
Authorities were digging a new tunnel into the debris as question began to rise about whether officials did enough to help.
Hotel staff sent an email to local authorities hours before the natural disaster, begging for help. Though the letter did not specifically mention an avalanche, it described panicking guests trapped by snow as earthquakes rattled the region, the wire service reported.
Nine people have been pulled out alive from the affluent hotel. They were found in small spaces and had eaten dirty snow in the dark while waiting for help.
Firefighters have used shovels, drills and their hands to search for victims. Investigators are trying to determine if the hotel should have been evacuated.