In the U.S., there are between 900 and 2,000 animal hoarding cases each year, that authorities know of. Without intervention from police and animal rescuers, the animals in these situations suffer in filthy conditions without enough to eat or drink.
Following reports of animal cruelty, the Walker County Sheriff’s Department offered two Alabama men multiple opportunities to provide better conditions for the dozens of animals on their property. Eventually, for the animals’ sake, officers determined they had no choice but to remove them from the property.
A Horrific Scene
The Walker County Sheriff’s Department contacted The Greater Birmingham Humane Society for help. GBHS has the largest shelter hospital in the state of Alabama. Even for them, the number of animals kept on this property was too much.
When GBHS staff arrived on the scene, they found dogs in outdoor pens, chained up in freezing weather. They also discovered over 40 dogs in a small house on the property, living in their own filth and without access to fresh air, food, or clean water.
Fortunately, GBHS has a veterinary team trained to provide emergency care in disasters or criminal situations. At the scene, the apprehended dogs received vaccinations, flea medication, and heartworm prevention medication.
Stephanie Salvago, the director of marketing for GBHS, described the treatment process for the dozens of dogs:
“Since being removed from the hoarding situation and placed in shelters, the canines have been dewormed, taken medicated baths, received a grooming session, undergone behavioral evaluations and socialization sessions with people and animals. The pets are also being fed special diets to regain healthy body weights. Some animals are receiving specialized care, including one dog who recently began hydrotherapy to regain some mobility in her rear legs.”
Salvago noted that the animals would all be looked after, but the sheer volume of affected animals meant GBHS would need help.
“We were able to determine the health of the animals while keeping records that will be used in the criminal investigation and trial. Once it became clear that the number of animals was too great for any shelter to accommodate, the GBHS also offered to place the animals in three of our locations and provide continued medical care.”
Finding New Homes For Over 100 Dogs
GBHS reached out to their partner organization, the BISSELL Pet Foundation, for help. They also connected with the Animal Rescue Corps and Greater Good Charities to access more volunteers and resources.
Allison Black Cornelius, CEO of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, said:
“We were able to keep some at our shelter, but neither GBHS nor Walker County Humane Society have the space for more than 100 special needs dogs and puppies. Getting them in healthy permanent placements is the goal, and we thank our partners for stepping up for these poor dogs and getting them on a path of recovery and into loving homes.”
BISSELL Pet Foundation’s emergency relief aid will ensure the transfer of many of these rescued dogs to shelter partners with space and specialized vet services. These shelters include Atlanta Humane, Humane Society of Charlotte, Humane Society of Tulsa, Belleville Area Humane Society, and Lexington Humane Society.
In sad cruelty cases like this one, it takes many collaborative rescuers to save the day.
If You See Something, Say Something
The two men responsible are currently in custody facing multiple counts of animal cruelty. It’s lucky someone reported their actions.
Reporting hoarding situations to the police or humane society is often what ends up saving the poor animals. Salvago said:
“If you think that there is an animal in danger or living in unfit conditions, please call your local shelter and report it. The mission of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society has been the same since 1883 — to promote the humane treatment of people and animals through education, advocacy, and services… We are here to be of service to both people and animals and ensure that they have the best life possible.”
Visit the social pages or websites of any of the above rescues to check on the availability of the rescued dogs. They may face life-long health consequences from their situation, but at least they’re safe now.