Our animal rescuers have gone on hundreds of deployments–responding to crisis situations for animals in natural disasters, saving dogs from puppy mills, delivering horses from severe neglect, and coming to the aid of all kinds of pets from hoarding situations.
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When animals end up emaciated or forced to live in filthy, unsafe conditions, we and other animal welfare groups have to respond. And it’s tough work. Our team puts in endless hours in all kinds of weather, they enter into often squalid and filthy conditions, and are known to engage in truly heroic rescues, whether scaling rooftops or crawling under houses to remove animals and bring them to safety.
Yesterday, our Animal Rescue Team helped remove 54 Labrador retrievers from a Vermont puppy mill, working with the Vermont State Police, the Humane Society of Chittenden County, and the Franklin County Humane Society. This facility was selling dogs over the Internet and through classified ads.
Our deputy manager of animal cruelty investigations, Ashley Mauceri, is no stranger to the sight of animals who have been living in misery before our rescue team arrives. Today, she sent an account of what stood out to her from the scene:
The large property was littered with trash, old toys and bicycles, appliances and vehicles, with some dogs roaming outside and others kept in filthy wire pens and sheds. I could easily feel the ribs of many dogs when I ran my hands over their sides, and some had untreated injuries.
Inside the house were two litters of puppies kept in plastic baby pools, who were severely dehydrated and received immediate veterinary attention on the scene. Attached to the house was an enclosed porch where 10 or 15 dogs were confined. The glass of the closed windows had become so caked with dirt that I could just barely see through to the faces of the dogs. The porch and the rest of the house were thick with ammonia fumes from the animals living in their own waste.
Other dogs were living outdoors in wire pens, standing in inches of mud and feces and left with only dirty, dank tubs of water to drink. But what upset me the most were the dogs kept further back from the road, on the edge of the woods. There, dogs were living in windowless, nearly airless buildings. When we opened up the doors there was an overwhelming stench, and it looked like these dogs never got the chance to leave that place or breathe fresh air. The idea of these animals living their entire lives in complete darkness just broke my heart.
But the next chapter of the story is what makes this work so rewarding: These 54 dogs are now receiving veterinary care, fresh food and water, and individual attention at our emergency shelter. As hard as it is to see animals suffering like this, our Animal Rescue Team will continue deploying to puppy mills and other cruel situations to help give these animals a second chance.