The Humane Society of the United States, the Monroe County Humane Association, Indiana State Police and the Greene County Health Department are working together to rescue more than 70 dogs in Greene County.
The owners agreed to relinquish the animals to the Monroe County Humane Association, and The HSUS is helping by removing the dogs, providing veterinarians, medicine and vaccinations, volunteers, transportation and shelter placement. The HSUS has also covered costs for hotel rooms for volunteers who need to stay overnight for the removal of the dogs.
The dogs rescued were living in cramped, unsanitary conditions, and are of varied breeds, sizes and ages. All of the dogs suffer from flea infestations, intestinal parasites and lack of preventative care, such as routine vaccinations. Most need to be spayed or neutered.
“These dogs have had a rough life: living in squalor and without basic care. We are happy to provide support to the Monroe County Humane Association in hopes that these animals can find loving homes, and get the care and attention they so desperately need and deserve,” said Anne Sterling, The HSUS’ Indiana state director.
The trailer where the dogs were living had been stripped to the plywood floors with chain-link walls built to contain groups of dogs. Other dogs could be seen outside running free while more were contained on two small fenced decks.
The rescue team, which was led by the Monroe County Humane Association, included members from The Humane Society of the United States, Bloomington Animal Care and Control, Casa Del Toro Pitbull Education and Rescue, New Albany/Floyd County Animal Shelter and several veterinarians, including Dr. Lauren Bowling from the Bloomington Cat Hospital and Dr. Rachael Jones from the Southlane Veterinary Hospital.
Once the dogs were removed from the property they were transported to a temporary shelter that was generously provided by the City of Bloomington. They are being evaluated and given any necessary immediate medical attention. The dogs will remain at the temporary shelter until they are ready to be transported to other shelters in and out of state, including some to the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter.
The owners said that they intended to start an animal shelter. They said that many of the dogs were dropped off at their property, but they also took in strays, and soon the numbers got out of control. They were unable to confirm the number of dogs in their possession. The Greene County Health Department has notified the property owners that they intend to condemn the property if they cannot rectify a lengthy list of repairs to make the home habitable for humans.
Animal hoarding is a complex public health and community issue with far-reaching effects that encompass mental health, animal welfare and public health. Most individuals return to hoarding behavior and will often begin collecting animals again very quickly.
“We are very grateful we were able to intervene and work with the owners to come to an amicable agreement about the dogs and secure a sign-over when we did. The conditions of the dogs would have inevitably worsened as time went on and numbers increased,” said Sarah Hayes, MCHA CEO. “We have built and will maintain a good relationship with the owners to educate and counsel them to help inhibit this situation from happening again.”
Greene County has very few animal ordinances to protect animals, and a percentage of the county’s animals end up at the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter each year. Hayes said she hopes this case prompts Greene County officials to take a serious look at the area’s animal welfare issues, and consider requiring inspections, basic standards of care and permitting for those who have more than a minimum number of animals in their possession.
PetSmart Charities Emergency Relief Program graciously supplied crates, cages, food and dishes to make this rescue operation possible.
Donations are being sought to help care for the dogs and off-set the overall cost of the rescue.
Donations can be made by visiting: monroehumane.org/giving or by mailed to, MCHA P.O. Box 1334 Bloomington, IN 47402.
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