Forty-four puppies are being auctioned online this week by the city of Aurora with no live, in-person viewing or bidding because of the coronavirus.

The animals were seized earlier this month from Pet City, in the Town Center at Aurora Mall, because of an outstanding tax bill of $86,000, according to an Aurora news release.

“The animals that were taken as part of this action were transferred to the Aurora Animal Shelter and partner agencies for evaluation and care,” the release said. “A number of puppies were in need of medical attention for respiratory problems (not related to COVID-19) at the time of the seizure and have been treated back to health.”

Bidding is already underway and the process will run until 4 p.m. Friday.

In order to comply with legal requirements, the puppies must be sold by public auction. Coronavirus concerns led the city to use the online process to comply with social distancing and avoid crowds gathering to bid in person. Coronavirus concerns also prohibit people from viewing the animals in person.

People registering for the auction will be subject to background checks on animal abuse. Anyone legally prohibited from owning animals will be barred from the process.

Successful bidders will pick up the lucky dogs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at the shelter, 15750 E. 32nd Ave., according to the release. Winners will be allowed into the shelter one at a time on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pet City had full or partial balances for tax filing periods from October 2017 to February 2020, the release said. Tax and licensing agents had been working with the business for about a year in an attempt to satisfy the debt.

“When it became apparent that was unlikely to happen, the city moved forward with a lien notice, so homes could be found for the animals and back taxes could be collected on behalf of taxpayers,” the release said.

There are about 21,000 licensed businesses in the city and it averages about 18 seizures annually.