June 14th, 2011 by Christy Griffin
The Hope Animal Sanctuary (IDA-HAS) Team has spent the past two months zealously rescuing and caring for abused and abandoned animals in our region. Celeste, a precious horse for whom the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department solicited help, was unbelievably emaciated when we brought her home. Her keepers readily surrendered her to our custody when they realized the seriousness of our joint effort.
A Grenada breeder sought out HAS for help placing six poodles last summer. The breeder said she and her family were no longer breeding. Her husband was very ill and her adult sons who lived at home were both unable to care for the dogs. One son suffered a terminal condition and the other Down syndrome. Her sister feared she might have become a hoarder, as it had been five years since she’d been invited into the home.
The breeder called again and asked that we place ten dogs for her, and that she’d like help with the remaining ten when she was able to get her ailing family use to the idea of letting go of their way of life. But before the woman called again her husband had died and she was admitted to the hospital. Another son outside the home stepped in to aid his brothers and discovered there were 23 poodles stored in small cages, 2 to 3 in each, suffering in their own filth.
Dr. Abernethy, affectionately dubbed “Doc,” assisted HAS. The team removed the 23 dogs and immediately transported them to Veterinary Associates to be examined. Sadly, eight suffered extreme conditions: rotting teeth that caused fistulas into the sinus cavity, advanced tumors, congestive heart failure, seizures, and some were blind. The Mississippi Animals Rescue League (MARL), in Clinton, Miss., and Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP), in Houston, Tex., aided with placing the 15 dogs, who, it was decided, would not be placed in the Grenada area. An inquiry from someone close to the family was worried that the dogs might be returned to the woman.
During the recent flooding in the region, there was concern that the Mississippi River might displace hundreds of families, prompting IDA-HAS to establish a temporary emergency shelter. A businessman in Grenada offered one of his warehouses for use for the effort. The shelter was readied in conjunction with the Grenada EOC and the Mississippi Animals Response Team (MART), a program overseen by the state veterinarian. Because the animals IDA-HAS received were surrendered for placement it wasn’t necessary to utilize the off-site temporary shelter. Some of the surrendered animals joined the poodles who went with CAP, and the Bolivar County Humane Society (BCHS) helped place five—it also opened a relief shelter. Cookie, one of the surrendered dogs, came home to IDA-Has after her treatment for heartworms.
When the public learned IDA-HAS was readying to aid animals displaced by the flood, some thoughtless or perhaps desperate people abandoned dogs and cats in front of and on the road to the sanctuary. A mother cat and her kittens were taped inside a box with only two small holes and left on the office porch in the heat.
On May 16th & 22nd, the IDA-HAS Team rescued 13 dogs and 4 cats from utter misery. The dogs ranged from thin to gaunt, all the adults suffered heartworms, and the five pups succumbed to Parvo. Louie remains hospitalized with pneumonia and Molly is under observation for symptoms of Parvo—it was her pups who died. Angel shares an enclosure with her beagle pals and two young dogs. She’s enchanted with Kali, our 9-year-old neighbor, who comes to help nearly every day. Matt and Eleanor are slowly recovering. Eleanor was just released from hospital care today. It’s simply a miracle that Eleanor is doing as well as she is. She was the first of the dogs rescued. She lay on a section of insulation on the edge of a burn pile in front of the dilapidated house the IDA-HAS Team at first mistook for an abandoned building. The investigation is not over and other animals may be rescued.
Yesterday, Doll Stanley, director of IDA-HAS, and Sarah Thomas, a veterinary student, a Veterinary Associate vet tech, and IDA-HAS team member, traveled to Carthage, Miss., to learn how IDA-HAS might aid a man who independently cares for 78 animals. From there they went to St. Anne’s Church to see which dogs IDA-HAS might be able to transport for friend and rescuer, Sister Pat. Then it was on to TAILS, a humane organization, to see if it might foster pups for transport and to see which dogs IDA-HAS could assist. The final stop of the day was emotionally draining. IDA-HAS had requested help from “Animal Planet”’s hoarder program for a woman who initially began taking in animals when she and a local group worked together. The good, but failed, intentions of the group, made worse by a rivalry with a member who broke away and abandoned as many as 40 dogs on her perceived adversary, set the stage for a truly challenging hoarding case. “Animal Planet” established initial dates to film. The dates were moved up, then postponed, and then the telling statement was made that because the husband of the “hoarder” wasn’t at odds with his wife, the case might not fit the criteria for the program.
The enormity and complexity of this case will require a concerted effort of groups and teams trained with the resources to humanely remove and aid what surely are 80-100 dogs who are not enclosed and are mostly shy or feral.
Stay tuned for more updates from the field!