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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

78 dogs rescued from 'extreme abuse and neglect'

Seventy-eight frightened dogs, who were crammed into waste-covered rabbit cages with only spoiled food to eat and buckets containing filthy water too high for them to reach, have been rescued from a puppy mill in Texas.

The dogs - 68 Rat Terriers, nine Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and one Cocker Spaniel - suffer from heartworms, periodontal disease, bite injuries, eye infections and what appears to be old fractures, according to Karen Froehlich, executive director of the Waco Humane Society.

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"This was an extreme case of neglect and abuse," Ms. Froehlich told Love of Dogs. "They were crammed into very small cages with up to 6 inches of feces in the cages. There was only moldy food to eat and the water was in buckets too high for them to reach and was a dark greenish black."

McLennnan County deputy sheriffs seized the dogs at the puppy mill in Elm Mott. The nine Cavaliers were taken by Cavalier Rescue, 32 dogs went to the Houston SPCA and the rest are at the Waco shelter.

Reports said neighbors as far as a mile away complained about the stench coming from the house where the dogs were seized. Deputies found a 55-gallon barrel filled with decomposing dog carcasses and another filled with dead goats.

Many of the rescued dogs, like Braveheart (photos at left), a 3-year-old Rat Terrier, are in constant fear from being stuffed into the tiny cages with more aggressive dogs, Ms. Froehlich said. In some cases, as many as six dogs were crammed into cages meant for rabbits.

"Braveheart was found in a small cage with a female and an aggressive male," Ms. Froehlich said. "He was covered in bite wounds that were infected. For the first several days, he faced his head into the back corner of the kennel and would not look at us."

But with nuturing by the Waco Humane Society staff, Braveheart's confidence is returning and "his wounds are clearing up wonderfully," Ms. Froehlich said.

Ms. Froehlich says she believes the dogs can recover and eventually placed them into homes. "We are working hard to rehabilitate, she said. "We have a dog trainer on staff, and she is working with them daily to try to get past their fear issues."

Rescue operations involving seizure, medical care and rehabilitation are expensive, Ms. Froehlich said, but they also take an psychological toll on animal welfare workers.

"There is also the emotional expense for our staff," Ms. Froehlich said. "It is difficult when the people that love and care for animals often have to see the reality of the things people can do to them."

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