Dogs rescued from deplorable conditions in Ross adjusting to shelter life | TribLIVE.com
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Tony LaRussa

While some of the 117 dogs that were rescued from a Ross Township home on Sept. 11 appear to be healthy, happy and ready for a new home. Staff at the Animal Friends rescue shelter say they all will need more time to recuperate and overcome the trauma of the deplorable conditions in which they lived.

“When they will be ready for adoption depends on the dog,” said Cody Hoellerman, a communications coordinator for Animal Friends. “The injuries they suffered and the physical condition are different for each dog. We want to make sure each one of them is ready before they go to a new home, which will take a little time.”

Once the dogs are healthy, they are allowed to interact with staff and volunteers at the shelter. They also must undergo behavior evaluations before they are cleared for adoption.

“Because they have received little human interaction, many of them are still learning how to walk on a leash – or even wear a collar,” Hoellerman said. “They have begun working on canine manners like housebreaking and basic commands. One by one, staff and volunteers at Animal Friends are getting to know the dogs and their unique, quirky and playful personalities.”

Hoellerman on Friday said all the dogs are slowly becoming acclimated to their temporary home at the shelter.

Shelter officials say many of the 117 dogs and puppies — mostly Australian Shepherd, Border Collie and Golden Retriever mixes — that were rescued from the home along Ridgeside Road were emaciated and in need of immediate medical attention.

After arriving at Animal Friends, each dog was examined by veterinary staff, which determined that most were underweight, suffering from skin issues, had fleas and bite wounds. One of the dogs rescued had suffered a severe wound to the head.

None of the dogs that were taken from the home were spayed or neutered, so each will be scheduled for surgery at Animal Friends, said Hoellerman, adding that they also will receive age-appropriate vaccinations.

Of the 117 dogs, 16 were puppies ranging in age from three days to five weeks.

Most of the puppies were placed in foster homes along with a lactating female dog to nurse them, Hoellerman said.

The conditions in the home were so bad that shelter personnel and emergency responders who removed the dogs had to wear breathing masks for protection because the odor of ammonia was so strong.

The woman who owns the home voluntarily surrendered the dogs to Animal Friends, the organization said.

Neighbors said while the smell and the flies near the house were sickening, they had no idea that so many dogs were being hoarded.

A spokeswoman for state Department of Agriculture, which oversees dog officers, said in a Sept. 25 email that authorities are still investigating the case.

“It’s an open investigation, but we definitely will be filing citations,” said Shannon Powers of the Agriculture Department.

Authorities have not released the name of the woman.

Because of the large number of dogs being cared for, Animal Friends is seeking donations to help cover the cost.

Donations can be made online.

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