Guest post written by Maggie Marton - part two of three, in a series on animal hoarding.
Last July, nearly 70 dogs were pulled from a trailer in Greene County, IN. The owners claimed that they planned to open a rescue but got overwhelmed – a common claim among animal hoarders. The dogs were in poor health with bacterial infections, fleas, and worms, and days-old puppies suffered from heat stroke.
Volunteers from the Monroe County Humane Association (MCHA), led by CEO Sarah Hayes, removed the dogs from the trailer, provided vetting in a temporary shelter, and then helped the dogs find permanent shelters. In the end, after some of the dogs gave birth, 80 dogs were rescued from the hoarders and nine more were left with the women.
The women hoarding the animals didn’t face charges; instead, the hope was to get them help.
However, during follow-up welfare checks, the MCHA – along with the Greene County Health Department – discovered that the women had nearly 40 more dogs on their property.
Hayes wasn’t surprised. “There is a 99.9% recidivism rate for animal hoarding, which was proven with MCHA's recent hoarding case in Greene County, Indiana, where two unemployed women were cohabiting with nearly 100 dogs in a single-wide trailer. Less than six months later, after all but nine dogs were removed, the women accumulated 40 additional dogs.”
When the MCHA undertook the rescue of the additional animals this spring, I participated in the operation as a volunteer at the temporary shelter.
But before we can get the dogs to the temporary shelter, they first needed to be rescued.
The women altered their trailer to attempt to accommodate large numbers of dogs. The floors are plywood, and chain link fencing cordons off sections to separate the animals. The home is unsanitary and unfit for both the women and for the dogs they hoard.
On the day of the rescue, the group who went to the trailer included Hayes, MCHA volunteers, an animal control officer, a Health Department official, and several law enforcement officials.
When the rescue team arrived at the property, they discovered that the women had relocated many of the dogs; even though they signed over more than 20 dogs, they weren’t all there.
And, even though they signed over their dogs, the hoarders told the rescuers that they changed their minds and intended to keep the animals. The main hoarder protested and argued. But the rescue team persevered. In the end, they were able to save 13 dogs from the hoard and another seven were turned in the next day.
Understandably, the dogs were frightened. Based on the conditions in which they were housed, it’s likely that none had ever been on a leash before; none had ever been in a crate or ridden in a car before the rescue. It’s likely that none had been to a vet before.
Yet, when they arrived at the shelter, the majority of the dogs greeted the volunteers with wagging tails, and they happily ate hotdogs out of our hands.
Tomorrow, in part three of this three-part series on animal hoarding, I’ll tell the story of the dogs who came into the temporary shelter, how they fared, and what you can do if you suspect an animal hoarder.
Image: Monroe County Humane Association
Maggie Marton is a freelance writer, editor, and grammar junkie. She lives in Bloomington, IN with her husband and two darling dogs.
Visit her online at www.maggiemarton.com or ohmydogblog.com.