100 dogs rescued from a yard of terror;
one has 8 pups, 12 others may be shot
More than 100 dogs - many burrowing in holes covered with lumber on a desolate property strewn with abandoned vehicles, cattle carcasses and barrels with the remains of dead dogs - have been rescued from a hoarder in what some are calling one of the largest cases of animal neglect in Oregon's history.
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Many of the dogs - mostly Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Hound-mixes, a Dalmatian and a Great Pyrenees - are malnourished and suffering from infections, animal welfare officials say.
Barbara Baugnon, an official with the Oregon Humane Society, says the property was one of the more gruesome scenes ever encountered by animal welfare officials. The photo at left from the Oregon Humane Society of a dog living in a hole with skeletal remains scattered about depicts the conditions.
"What made the ... scene particularly bad was the fact the temperatures were subfreezing, dogs were chained to abandoned vehicles with little access to water and also the fact that they fed the dogs carcasses from a cattle rendering plant [which] gave this site [the look] of a Steven King novel with all the skeletons around," Ms. Baugnon told MySetterSam.
The harsh conditions the dogs endured included the property owner - who has no veterinary background - amputating the front paw of one dog, Ms. Baugnon said. The owner "thought the dog needed it. Looked it up online and did the procedure."
Conditions at the property, located in Princeton, were brought to the attention of the Harney County sheriff by social workers who were investigating an unrelated complaint regarding the well-being of children at the home.
Oregon Humane Society rescuers were able to capture 93 of the some 140 dogs - like this 3-month-old puppy in photo at left from the Oregon Humane Society - roaming around the property, Ms. Baugnon said.
Humane society rescuers removed 14 dogs on an initial visit and 79 more on a subsequent visit, Ms. Baugnon said. "The 79 dogs we brought back were the more social of the 140 or so on the property. We couldn’t catch the more feral of the dogs."
Another rescue organization, Harney County Save a Stray, has continued efforts to rescue the remaining dogs, according to founder Melanie Epping. Her group has rescued another 34 dogs so far - like this one in below in photo from Save A Stray.
“Our biggest challenge now is to capture the remaining dogs running loose and getting them transported. Any dogs we don’t catch and place soon will be killed - most likely by shooting them,” Ms. Epping states in a media release.
The Sheriff’s Department had set March 15 as a deadline for shooting any dogs still running loose, according to Harney County Save a Stray, but the date has been postponed to allow more time capture the remaining dogs. About 10 to 12 dogs are still running loose on the property and about 10 of them are pups approximately 3 to 6 months old.
"We are focused on getting them as soon as possible as well as any more adults that are adoptable," Ms. Epping told MySetterSam. "That will leave the most feral ones and it will be determined at a later date how best to handle them."
Those dogs are too feral to place in rescues or foster homes because of safety and liability issues, Ms. Epping said.
Some of the dogs that Save A Stray has nabbed so far are responding pretty well to their new surroundings, Ms. Epping said. "Some of the foster people said they look 'shell shocked,' but all of them are eating. It will take time and patience to work through their fear issues. They will be seen by a vet as soon as they can be handled."
One dog, seen in photo at left from Harney Save a Stray, has had a litter of puppies while in foster care. Honey had eight pups and is said to be an "awesome mom."
Many of the dogs are sociable despite the harsh conditions, according to Sharon Harmon, executive director of the Oregon Humane Society. "The dogs we rescued, despite their living conditions, are friendly to people and want to be around us."
Ms. Baugnon says the good temperament of the dogs is "very surprising," and it will make rehabilitating them easier. "The first step is to ensure they are healthy enough to be spayed or neutered. Then we access their temperament to try to find them a perfect match for a home," she explained.
Nine of the 93 dogs that the Oregon Humane Society rescued are being cared for by the Humane Society of Central Oregon.
Ms. Baugnon says the rescue and rehabilitation of the dogs is expensive. "The two rescues could cost OHS, which gets no support from national humane organizations, more than $150,000," she said.
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10. Dogs rescued from squalor resorted to cannibalism
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15. Waste-covered pets seized; rescuers wear masks
Those wishing to make donations for the care and rehabilitation of the dogs should visit the Oregon Humane Society or the Humane Society of Central Oregon.
Harney County Save a Stray has placed the dogs it has rescued with four animal welfare organizations - Greenhill Humane Society, Heartland Humane Society, Pet Adoption Network and Willamette Humane Society - which are also are seeking donations of food, supplies and money.
Donations also can be sent to Harney County Save a Stray.
Money is especially needed to pay for medical care, Ms. Epping said. "They will all eventually need to be altered and vaccinated."