Alaqua Animal Refuge, the no-kill animal shelter located in Freeport, is in the midst of a massive rescue effort to save and provide aid to many Great Pyrenees dogs that have been living in squalor in a nearby county.
Alaqua was originally contacted nine months ago by Lucky Puppy Rescue in Bonifay, indicating a situation where an elderly woman was living in a house with an enormous amount of Great Pyrenees dogs in Washington County. Alaqua contacted local law enforcement authorities and then accompanied them to the scene where over 70 adult dogs were found on the 35-acre property, including inside the woman’s house.
The owner of the dogs was confined to a wheelchair with medical issues and could not move about within the house to properly care for them. The dogs were allowed to come in and out of the house through window openings that had large rubber mats affixed to them, serving as giant doggy doors.
The entire property, including the house, was covered in urine, feces and hair, and was extremely unsanitary for the owner and the dogs. During Alaqua’s initial assessment, it was determined that none of the dogs had been spayed or neutered. They also had multiple injuries from fighting—mostly from males fighting over females in heat. The dogs’ hair was dirty and matted, and fleas were infested everywhere.
Laurie Hood, founder of Alaqua Animal Refuge, described the scene inside the home as “truly sad and deplorable” for the woman and the dogs. “There was a central room with dog food, and the owner would sit in her chair and dump food on the floor for them. There were bits of food scattered everywhere. It’s hard to believe than anyone or any animal could live in these conditions.”
Unfortunately, at that time it was determined by officials that the dogs and the woman would be allowed to remain on the property and live in the house. Alaqua, however, kept in touch with the woman and offered to assist her with the dogs’ care, including food or whatever was necessary.
In recent weeks, Alaqua learned that the woman had passed away, and that it was in her final wishes that Alaqua take ownership of all of the dogs living with her. On the Sunday following the woman’s death, representatives were granted access onto the property to evaluate the situation.
Again, many dogs were found living amid horrible and miserable conditions. A neighbor had also indicated that that there were deceased puppies lying on the ground and in the house. Through a sheer miracle, the puppies found were not deceased, but were so weak and lethargic they could barely move.
A total of 10 puppies, ranging from two to four weeks old, and one kitten were brought to Alaqua late that Sunday night. The animals were each evaluated by Alaqua’s medical team, and the staff worked well after midnight caring for and stabilizing them.
Each animal was given a thorough bath, fluids for dehydration, dewormer and flea medication, feeding by syringe and the appropriate vaccinations. They are all in foster care now where they are safe, and can be given individual care during this critical time in their lives.
Alaqua is currently working with rescues such as the Lucky Puppy Rescue, which has been caring for the dogs’ essential needs by giving them food and water. The organization has been an integral part of this massive rescue effort. The remaining adult dogs on the property are also being evaluated by Alaqua’s staff of veterinarians and animal technicians. After each animal is evaluated, they will be dewormed, vaccinated and provided medical treatment as necessary.
“It is a daunting task,” Hood said. “The majority of the dogs have never been handled or socialized, much less had any outside human contact. We are taking our time to gain the trust of the dogs, so the process is a lengthy one. I’m grateful for so many national groups stepping forward to help us rescue these majestic animals, so we can get them the care they deserve and into loving homes quickly.”
A rescue of this magnitude takes an incredible amount of resources, as one might imagine. Large rescue efforts such as this one require additional resources, time and money, in addition to meeting daily essential needs of more than 250 animals that are continually in Alaqua’s care at any given time.
If you would like to help Alaqua with the Great Pyrenees rescue efforts, you can make a donation at www.alaqua.org.
All donations are appreciated and are important, as lifesaving rescue work cannot done be done without the support of individuals and organizations wanting to help animals suffering from neglect and hoarding situations such as this.
– Mary Chris Murry
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