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Rescued dogs lived in holes with skeletal remains

More than 100 dogs – many burrowing in holes covered with lumber on a desolate property strewn with abandoned vehicles, cattle carcasses and barrels with the remains of dead dogs – have been rescued from a hoarder in Oregon in what some are calling one of the largest cases of animal neglect in the state’s history.

Many of the dogs – mostly Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Hound-mixes, a Dalmatian and a Great Pyrenees – are malnourished and suffering from infections, animal welfare officials say.

Barbara Baugnon, an official with the Oregon Humane Society, says the property was one of the more gruesome scenes ever encountered by animal welfare officials. The photo at left from the Oregon Humane Society of a dog living in a hole with skeletal remains scattered about depicts the conditions.

“What made the … scene particularly bad was the fact the temperatures were subfreezing, dogs were chained to abandoned vehicles with little access to water and also the fact that they fed the dogs carcasses from a cattle rendering plant [which] gave this site [the look] of a Steven King novel with all the skeletons around,” Ms. Baugnon told MySetterSam.

The harsh conditions the dogs endured included the property owner – who has no veterinary background – amputating the front paw of one dog, Ms. Baugnon said. The owner “thought the dog needed it. Looked it up online and did the procedure.”

Conditions at the property, located in Princeton, were brought to the attention of the Harney County sheriff by social workers who were investigating an unrelated complaint regarding the well-being of children at the home.

Oregon Humane Society rescuers were able to capture 93 of the some 140 dogs – like this 3-month-old puppy in photo at left from the Oregon Humane Society – roaming around the property, Ms. Baugnon said.

Humane society rescuers removed 14 dogs on an initial visit and 79 more on a subsequent visit, Ms. Baugnon said. “The 79 dogs we brought back were the more social of the 140 or so on the property. We couldn’t catch the more feral of the dogs.”

Another animal welfare organization, Harney County Save a Stray, has continued efforts to rescue the remaining dogs, according to founder Melanie Epping. Her group so far has rescued another 20 dogs, like the one in this photo at left from Harney County Save a Stray.

“Our biggest challenge now is to capture the remaining dogs running loose and getting them transport-
ed,” Ms. Epping states in a media release. Harney County Save a Stray has been told by county officials that any dogs, including puppies, that are unable to be caught will likely have to be shot for safety reasons, Ms. Epping said.

Many of the dogs are sociable despite the harsh conditions, according to Sharon Harmon, executive director of the Oregon Humane Society. “The dogs we rescued, despite their living conditions, are friendly to people and want to be around us.”

Ms. Baugnon says the good temperament of the dogs is “very surprising,” and it will make rehabilitating them easier. “The first step is to ensure they are healthy enough to be spayed or neutered. Then we access their temperament to try to find them a perfect match for a home,” she explained.

Nine of the 93 dogs that the Oregon Humane Society rescued are being cared for by the Humane Society of Central Oregon.

Ms. Baugnon says the rescue and rehabilitation of the dogs is expensive. “The two rescues could cost OHS, which gets no support from national humane organizations, more than $150,000,” she said.

Read the full article, with photos, here.

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