2007-01-31 / Columnists
Pets, Pets, Pets
In rescue- when it rains, it pours, and no breed is spared the flood waters. Animal hoarders are everywhere, and their "taste" is eclectic. Many are repeat offenders. Last month a Pennsylvania shelter asked breed clubs for help after seizing 60+ severely neglected dogs, including 18 Afghan Hounds and other high maintenance breeds, from a couple who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges just 4 years ago. The purebred rescues sprang into action. Through the shelter's and clubs' tireless efforts, these dogs will ultimately go from rags to riches, but chances are these homegrown puppy millers will be back in business creating more heartache soon.
In January the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter in Chambersburg (west of Gettysburg) was overwhelmed by the horrid sighthound scene, strewn also with Collies, Shelties, Irish Setters, Sheepdogs, St. Bernards, Aussies, Cockers, Pekes, Golden Retrievers, and mixes found outdoors in freezing temperatures and unsanitary pens. First agents rescued 33, then 30 more- on this second trip discovering an Afghan tied to an overturned boat and a trio of 8 week old Afghan puppiesall from a makeshift kennel owned by Timothy and Cindy Keller of Hamilton Township, now facing 139 new counts of cruelty. The rescue occurred while a nearby Harrisburg "sanctuary" is being charged in another huge confiscation of filthy dogs and cats.
Cumberland Valley (CVAS), with room for only 80 dogs/cats total, could not hold such a large influx of malnourished, matted dogs. A seizure of this size taxes the space and resources of any shelter, and impacts the adoption possibilities of the existing dog population. Jennifer Vanderau at CVAS has prepared an informative article about what to expect when adopting a dog so neglected and undersocialized. She says that Cumberland Valley is still in need of supplies and funds. For more about the PA shelter, see www.cvas-pets.org.
Local vets housed and groomed some dogs from the raid, while regional and national breed clubs responded immediately. Since the former owners, who allegedly still have some Toy mixes (unlucky bargaining chips), signed the outdoor dogs over, all of the Afghans, except one euthanized for humane reasons, all the Cockers, and many of the other purebreds are now fosters via breed clubs. Jennifer said she "doesn't know what they would have done without the purebred rescues".
This hoarder case, though out of state, touches me so because Afghans have been my beloved breed for the last 27 years. First unconfirmed counts-145 dogs, reported here 2 weeks ago- were wrong. I learned of Chambersburg from Anna Stromberg (who rescued my Beauty Queen a few years ago) while she was on her way home from picking up emaciated Scarlet. The Afghan trio was probably her latest litter. (When our SPCA took 33 Yorkies and Cavaliers from the Lindenhurst home in '03, we couldn't determine which dog was the mother of the puppies because some of the adults had not survived, and none had enough nourishment to produce milk.) Later Anna grabbed 2 of the Afghan puppies. One- Pippi- appears to have a severe leg deformity and will be seeing a specialist soon. (Please don't tell my husband yet how much I want her.)
Afghan Hound Rescue mobilized locally and nationally. PA contacts Ivy Logue and Stir Greer are coordinating the effort. Transport came from all over, and the Afghans are now fostered from Ohio to New England. Ivy has the third puppy plus "Mack" the sweet matted male tied to the boat. Condition varies dog to dog, including malnutrition, dehydration, parasites, Lyme, urine scalds, untreated broken bones, ear infections, tooth abscesses, lack of socialization, and severe mats. Most have been stripped down with a surgical blade- the Afghan way of starting over. These dogs are now learning the joys and rules of living inside homes.
Ve t - erinary bills, including spay/neuter before placement, on these Afghans will be staggering for a national breed rescue already drained by a rescue of about 30 California Afghans, many heartworm positive, from a different chronic collector. Afghan fanciers are pitching in with fund raisers and auctions to benefit the foster dogs on each coast. The Chambersburg Afghans have a detailed website- ://www.mosso.net/ch.htm- " www.mosso.net/ch.htm- with photos and click-on descriptions of each dog, online adoption applications, a Pay Pal donation account, and the EBay items that I keep getting outbid on.
Unfortunately, our justice system often fails animal victims when prosecuting these hoarders-defined by humane societies as-"someone who has more animals than he/she can properly care for and fails to grasp the impact of his/her neglect". Although this is their second cruelty litigation, the Kellers (with 2 kids at this same home) don't face any jail timemerely $8,600 in fines.
Even when the perpetrator is convicted, the recidivism rate for collectors is quite high. Some move or change their names to start over. The Chambersburg Public Opinion cites a '99 Public Health study that claims between 700- 2,000 hoarding cases are reported in the US each year, and 60% are repeat offenders. It's time the state courts set up a national data base so we can start tracking abusive animal collectors as we do sex offenders.
Back on Long Island, we interrupt our usually scheduled Babylon Town Shelter poster pet photos this week to bring you pictures of the needy Chambersburg Afghans….but, remember Babylon Shelter (643-9270) on Lamar St. W. Babylon has an assortment of deserving dogs and cats. Plenty of their pictures are available on the Babylon Petfinder site. Here's a sampling: +Dogs: a purebred male German Shepherd in Cage 7; a white Mini- Poodle in Cage 37; "Panda"- my longtime favorite in Cage 47; an older female Mini Schnauzer in Cage 53. +Cats: "Jan & Dean" in C-5- a pair of 6 month kittens that grew up at the shelter, and then foster care. We just had them neutered and returned with rabies shots. "Jan" is "Dalmatian" patterned and "Dean" is solid black. Also "Tiara" in C-2, the gorgeous odd eye Turkish angora style kitten.