First there was one dog. He was hanging around a hog operation near Cando. An employee took pity on the poor starving dog and manged to get close enough to him to grab the frightened and skittish fellow. He was extemely thin and very frightened, but the man persisted and soon saw a tail wag. He took the dog home and contacted Uffda. He agreed to keep the dog until a foster home could be arranged. He named the dog Goldie because he looked like a small yellow lab-golden retriever mix. Then he began to wonder if the dog had come from a nearby farm. After work one day he drove over to the place and was appalled by the state of the animals he saw in the yard. He notified the county sheriff's office, setting the wheels in motion for what has become the largest animal rescue since Uffda began.
After an investigation by the sheriff's office a warrant to seize dogs was obtained. The state veterinarian was contacted regarding the allegations of animal neglect/abuse and a group of individuals was hastily assembled.The group consisted of law enforcment personnel, veterinarian and clinic staff, state fish and game officers, county employees and legal advisors - about 20 in all. Armed with cameras, animal carriers of all sizes, snares, collars and tags the convoy of vehicles arrived at the farm. What they found there was horrifying.
It took over 6 hours to round up all the dogs. They were terrified and despite their extremely malnourished state were quite successful in avoiding capture. The owners were not present when the team arrived but when they did come home things got very tense. From the state of the out-buildings and the house it was obvious that the owners were hoarders, not just of animals. There were piles of rubbish everywhere. The dogs had no shelter except for several that were considered house pets. These animals were in much better shape than the dogs left to fend for themselves. The only food for the outdoor dogs was corn. Some of the animals were feeding on a fresh cow carcass; another cow was in such poor shape it had to be put down immediately.
When the dust settled and all the dogs had been placed in crates they were transported to the vet clinic and the business of identifying each animal began and continued through the evening into the wee hours. The total was an astounding 45 dogs. Of the 45 there were 25 puppies from 6 weeks to 4-5 months in age. At least 10 adult females were pregnant, some close to whelping. One pathetic female had dozens of festering wounds on her face from an encounter with a porcupine. She was in the worst state of extreme malnutrition because she was unable to eat. She was obviously just a few steps from death's door. But decpite her pain this lovely dog welcomed our touch and licked our hands. Once she had been sedated the quills were removed and she was given antibiotics and pain relievers.
It was utter chaos. But the team set about the tasks of photographing and tagging everyone of those 45 dogs. As for breed, who knows? About half were black labbie types; some were blue merlle, some had long coats and resembled retrievers while others were short-haired. Most of the adults were young, under 3 years of age. Most of the pregnant females had obviously born other litters.
Now, what to do with all these animals? There was an agreement reached with the owners to relinquish all but the house dogs to Uffda. Since we are not an animal shelter we had to reach out for help. And help came indeed. Humane societies and breed rescues extended offers to take dogs, even to the point of coming to Cando to pick up the animals. Within the first 48 hours most of the puppies and many adults had temporary placements. When rescues work together for the welfare of animals preserving quality life is upper-most in everyone's philosophy. And the amazing thing about this pack of dogs is that despite their malnutrition, the lack of socialization and shelter, they are healthy friendly animals. The day after the rescue, when I visited the "herd", it was vey quiet in the clinic - no barking, whining, scratching or other signs of stress. I thought "Wow all the dogs must have disappeared". When I opened the door there they were, happily lying on warm blankets,or moving about the room calmly.All tails were wagging merrily. What better reward for any rescuer than a wagging tail and a grateful lick?