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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

237 dogs rescued from 'solitary confinement'
and filth; three give birth to 17 puppies

Two-hundred and thirty-seven dogs - including some nursing puppies, others pregnant, and all suffering from medical and emotional problems after living their entire lives in "solitary confinement" in filthy cages - have been rescued from a breeder in North Carolina.

The dogs - Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Pug mixes, Pomeranians and German Shepherds - are being treated for heartworms; severe dental disease; mammary tumors; intestinal parasites; fleas and ticks; and mouth, skin and eye infections, according to officials at animal welfare organizations that are caring for the pets.

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The rescued animals were in "horrible condition," Mondy Lamb, spokeswoman for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County in North Carolina told Love of Dogs. "You could tell these dogs had not been taken care of in the way that you are supposed to take care of dogs."

The Wake County SPCA took in 40 dogs and puppies (some seen in photos from the Wake County SPCA) and is now caring for 56 as three Golden Retreivers have given birth to 17 pups, Ms. Lamb said.

One dog had seven puppies - but one did not make it - shortly after arriving at the shelter and two other dogs each had five pups a couple of weeks later. Golden Retrievers normally have litters of six to 10 puppies.

"We knew they had poor nutrition and care, which is why the litters are smaller than usual," Ms. Lamb said.

The dogs were rescued from a breeder in Wilson County, North Carolina, by officials from the county sherrif's office and the Humane Society of the United States. In addition to the Wake County SPCA, the dogs are being cared for by the Virginia Beach SPCA, Norfolk SPCA and Richmond SPCA in Virginia.

Most of the dogs are also being treated for emotional problems from being locked up in the cages their entire lives, Ms. Lamb said. "Almost across the board they are highly under socialized. Individual foster homes - along with our behavioral staff - are working with the dogs. Some of them appear to hardly have ever been touched by human hands."

Despite their problems, Ms. Lamb is hopeful that the dogs (like this one at left with a severe right eye infection in photo from the Wake County SPCA) can be rehabilitated. "It helps that we have dedicated foster parents willing to work with these dogs. Being in a home setting under programs designed by our behavioral staff gives us confidence that we have the tools to help the dogs succeed in becoming more than they are now."

Tabitha Frizzell Hanes, community relations manager for Richmond SPCA, says the 18 dogs her organization is caring for are also suffering from severe emotional problems.

"Living in solitary confinement leads to a host of behavioral concerns," Ms. Hanes told Love of Dogs. "Dogs deprived of human contact are often fearful and spooky and may require extensive remedial socialization."

The dogs being cared for by the Richmond SPCA range in age from 2 to 6 years (like Finola, left, and Kyoto in photos from the Richmond SPCA), Ms. Hanes said. "Everything what we consider normal daily life for a pet dog is new to them. They have never before felt grass beneath their feet or been in a home with stairs. House training is of course a challenge as the small cages they were kept in did not account for separate areas for eating, sleeping and eliminating."

Ms. Hanes also is optimistic that the dogs can be rehabilitated and placed into good homes. "Their medical conditions are all treatable and are being addressed. Our wonderful staff and volunteers are spending time with them to socialize these dogs and have begun introducing them to collars and leashes and many of the experiences they have missed so far in life."

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Caring for and rehabilitating the dogs is likely to cost thousands of dollars for all the organizations involved, Ms. Lamb said. "Treating these conditions requires time and significant resources."

Those who are interested in adopting or wish to make donations of money or supplies should visit the Wake County SPCA, Virginia Beach SPCA, Norfolk SPCA and Richmond SPCA.


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