ASHTABULA-- Tammy Dondorfer can barely stand the sight.
Over the past couple months, she has helped rescue 30 dogs in a case of animal hoarding. The situation is only getting worse.
“We realize a lot of them were missing a lot of hair, so there was definitely disease running through there,” said Dondorfer, the animal welfare director at the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League. “There were a few that were thin. They were housed five to six per kennel.”
In December, the APL got a tip that a county resident was housing about 40 dogs outside of his home. She said the area breeder became overwhelmed with the responsibility.
While most of the dogs were well-fed, Dondorfer said their health was deteriorating.
“All the dogs are being treated for sarcoptic mange, which is a zoonotic disease,” she said. “That means it can transfer to humans, so we have to be careful when we’re bringing the animals in.”
Mange is a mite which often causes itching and skin infection, Dondorfer said. Many dogs had bloody and scabby bodies as a result.
The infections can take months to treat – time the APL cannot afford.
“We only have room for 80 dogs, and we’re already at capacity, so by bringing in more dogs, it’s straining the already tight resources that we have,” said Dr. Irene Fiala, Vice President of the Board of Directors at the APL.
The APL seized 15 dogs in December and another five last week.
Some animals have struggled to survive.
Dondorfer said one collie had such poor teeth, they will need to be removed. Another dog, named Isis, battled skin infections and has a hole in its leg.
Although many of the dogs are unhealthy, Dondorfer said the county has not pressed charges against the person responsible.
“He is cooperating,” she said. “We thought we would try to go in, get the worst case scenarios first and try to keep working out something that we just keep going back until we get everybody.”
Until then, Dondorfer said her goal is to rehabilitate the dogs that have been neglected and to help them – among the many others – find a home.
The Ashtabula County Animal Protective League is located at 5970 Green Road in Ashtabula.
The APL is open 1 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is also open 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.