CLEVELAND – Animal rescue groups face an enormous task after saving hundreds of dogs from a kennel in Richland County last week.
“The dogs, they were in pretty rough condition,” said Sharon Harvey, of Cleveland Animal Protective League. “They’ve been living in cages in their own feces and urine, really with very minimal human interaction, probably to only do minor cleaning periodically and then a little bit of feeding.”
More than 300 Chihuahuas and Shar Peis were rescued from a family owned kennel in Shelby. The breeder was in hospice care and her husband died of a heart attack recently, leaving the dogs to fend for themselves.
The Animal Protective League, PAWs Ohio, Marilyn’s Voice and the Friendship APL are just a handful of the local group helping the dogs find new homes.
Cleveland’s APL has taken 42 Chihuahuas, most with health problems.
“One of the most remarkable things we saw was that they were covered in fleas, just crawling in fleas,” said Dr. Allison Lash, head of APL veterinary services. “Some dogs can live with a lot of fleas on them and look pretty good but some have flea allergy dermatitis and have hair loss.”
Lash said about half of the dogs face hair loss and dermatitis. Yet, others face long-term problems like anemia, which will have to be treated medically and with a change in diet.
“Once their blood tests come back, they will get spade or neutered, get their teeth cleaned and extractions done, skin infection will clear up and they’ll be available for adoption,” Lash said.
Not all dogs are ready to be adopted.
Lash said some of the dogs have been sent to foster homes to help build their social skills, something they’ll need before finding something more permanent.
“They’re coming out of their shells,” she said. “A lot of them probably never left that building, so they may have never seen the light of day. They may have never touched grass. Now they’re getting people that just want to play with them, touch them and hold them. And they’re really responding well to that.”
After treatments, immunizations and shots, dogs will be ready for adoption. Harvey said some may be ready to adopt by next week.
“It’s really quite an overwhelming experience to know that we can step up and with the help of our community and with the help of our supporters, is really take these little animals that had absolutely nothing and be able to give them what they need,” Harvey said.
For more information on how to adopt an animal from the Animal Protective League, go to http://www.clevelandapl.org/