Heaven, a senior beagle, was one of 23 dogs rescued from a hoarder.
"Heaven is the most neglected and tortured dog we have ever seen," Julia Sharp, Vice President of Saving the Animals of Rowan (STAR) told DogHeirs when describing the senior beagle rescued this week. "We have dealt with a lot over the years. We've seen a lot. This is the worst."
On September 18, STAR was contacted by Fleming County authorities in Kentucky and asked to help care for 23 horribly neglected dogs taken from an animal hoarder.
For years, the dogs had been living in a trailer that was knee-deep in feces. As a result, the dogs lost their fur and are mostly bald.
"These dogs are literally naked and hairless and pink. HORRIBLE," STAR wrote.
The dogs were immediately taken to Fleming Regional Animal Care & Surgical Center to receive medical care where they are currently under medical quarantine. STAR told DogHeirs that the dogs are all suffering from extreme neglect, which has lead to malnutrition, demodectic mange and bacterial skin and upper respiratory infections.
The dogs will gradually be introduced to the world, as the trailer they were trapped in has been the only environment they have ever known. "We do think these dogs have never been outside," said Julia.
When the dogs were first let outdoors they were afraid and confused. "They were pretty shut down and terrified," explained Julia. "At first when the staff would try to let the dogs outside in the play area, they would huddle against the building on a 10 inch strip of concrete. They did not know how to handle grass."
"Now several of them are venturing out, tails wagging, in their little sweaters, running and yapping and turning their little faces towards the sun," Julia described. "They are enjoying being handled and talked to and petted."
All 23 of the dogs will need extensive treatments, antibiotics and long term care for their skin and for behavioral rehabilitation. Some will also need dental work. In a glimmer of good fortune, all the dogs are heartworm negative.
Several of the dogs will also need special care, as they are pregnant. One of the pregnant dogs, Katy, was very stressed emotionally and had to be moved into foster care. She immediately gave birth to two puppies; one was stillborn and the other male puppy survived. Katy and her baby boy are currently resting at their foster home.
Katy and her newborn puppy
STAR has already been able to find several of the dogs with experienced fosters and rescues. "We are networking with our trusted rescue partners to secure placement for them," said Julia. "Several already have firm commitments."
One of the dogs with a secured foster home is Heaven. Julia said, "Heaven is responding to treatment, has a few tufts of hair coming in, and is not so itchy. Antibiotics are beginning to work and clear up the infections. When Heaven is clear for travel, she has a wonderful home waiting for her with a person very experienced with the needs of senior beagles."
"Claire was also found in horrible shape."
"[Claire] is doing so much better though! She even has tufts of hair growing back in."
As the dogs are all currently in frail condition, they will remain in the veterinarian's care for several more weeks until they are certified for transport. Said STAR, "The good news is that all 23 are hanging in there!"
STAR is in desperate need of funds and healthy dog food that is grain free/potato free, in both dry and canned forms. Fortunately, they have already received much-needed sweaters for each of the dogs.
Update: September 30, 2013
Sadly, Heaven passed away today. Saving the Animals of Rowan said, "We lost Heaven today. This just in from the vet's office: This morning Heaven was having some difficulty breathing and would not offer to eat her food. She would cry out periodically as if she was hurting. Doc checked her over and gave her furosemide as her lungs sounded as though they had fluid. Her heartbeat was more mild than it had been. When she arrived her old heart had been worn thin from so many years here on this earth. She just passed a few minutes ago peacefully."
As for the other dogs, they are socializing very quickly. STAR wrote, "They are doing wonderfully and once they get into an actual home atmosphere, I believe they will be total loves. They are trying so hard. They have stopped snapping from fear and some actually jump up to be picked up. They are all happy to see us when we come in. They no longer have to be "tricked " into being caught. They want to be handled, they are just trying now to come to us on their own rather than have us come to get them. They are now playful with each other and all wag when they are running around together. Though they still need a little bit of work, they are totally different dogs than they were when they first got here."
Update: October 10, 2013
Many of the hoarder dogs left for for rescues last week. Claire is going to her new family soon. Katy's newborn puppy Neo is growing and his eyes have opened.
Katy's foster mom Lori said, "She has finally stopped hoarding food in her blankets, so I'll take that as progress."
"She just broke my heart today though. I wanted to take her outside so bad to try the sunshine. I couldn't even get a harness on her. She was to afraid and freaked out. And I'm afraid to try a collar for fear she'll get upset and somehow get it twisted and choke herself."
"So alas she is still inside in her crate, with her pup. Listening to music. I'll let her be until tonight. She comes out to use a puppy pad for her buisiness and then goes straight back to the kennel. It's her 'safe place'."
"Katy can't be treated for her mange yet, due to Neo. Lori wrote, "At least she's cool with Neo being removed and handled. Doesn't offer to bite or anything, so that's a blessing."
Update: October 17, 2013
Claire is now in her forever home. STAR told DogHeirs, "Her follow-up blood work shows improvement! They are closely monitoring her progress with their vet and now that she is stronger they are able to start her on different medication for the mange."
The photo above shows her wearing a medical cloth that is changed daily. STAR said, "Her new mom reports: 'She loves to have the top of her head rubbed and makes adorable little noises! And the good news is that some hair has started to grow back. You can kind of see the fuzz on her leg here, and she has some fuzz on the top of her head! And more good news is that she's pretty feisty. She's also wagged her tail a few times!'"
November 20, 2013
Claire's foster mother shared photos of Claire now a few months on in her recovery. Her fur is growing back and she enjoys walking on the grass and in the sun.
Want to help Claire, Katy and the other dogs?
You can also donate directly to STAR online here.
Checks should be made payable to STAR and can be mailed to: STAR, PO Box 454, Morehead, KY 40351, USA. Please include your name and mailing address with any contributions so that the rescue may send a receipt verifying that your donation was received.
Saving the Dogs of Rowan (STAR) is a Donation Recipient of the DogHeirs Giving Back Program for non profits.
STAR is a 501c Non-Profit organization and works toward the rescue and rehabilitation of abused and abandoned dogs. STAR works closely with the Rowan County Canine Shelter in Kentucky, USA to help reduce the number of unwanted dogs by finding rescue groups and foster parents until the dogs find forever homes.
To send the dogs food, toys or other goodies, items can be mailed to either: STAR, c/o Fleming Vet, 9142 Morehead Road, Flemingsburg KY 41041 or STAR, c/o Harold White Lumber, 2920 Flemingsburg Rd, Morehead KY 40351.
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