Today, The Humane Society of the United States' animal rescue team is on the scene of a 44-acre property in rural Arizona, where The HSUS responded to a call from the Apache County Sheriff's Department to assist in a large-scale animal hoarding rescue (see photos from the rescue here). HSUS staff members are still working today to remove all the animals from the property, but our director of animal cruelty, Adam Parascandola, took a moment to send this report early this morning.
On this remote property outside Show Low, Arizona, more than 200 dogs, cats, chickens, and other animals have been living in filthy pens, trailers, and broken-down vehicles. There is no running water here, and most of the animals appeared to have no water to drink.
Many of the dogs were suffering from untreated injuries, dehydration, and severe skin conditions that left them with missing fur and scabs on their skin. We found several litters of puppies, some of them very anemic, as well as extremely underweight animals. A veterinarian was on hand to check these animals and provide emergency care as needed.
The cats were living in a trailer where ammonia levels were so high that rescuers had to wear respirators inside. In one pen, we discovered a 700-pound pig with severely overgrown hooves and no food to be seen.
Sadly, we also found the remains of many animals buried in pits or left to decay. The skeletons, fur, and bone fragments of countless dogs and other animals are a tragic testament to the years of neglect they endured. Though we couldn't save these animals, I'm so glad that local law enforcement contacted The HSUS for help and that hundreds of animals are now on their way to better lives.
The woman who was keeping these animals has a long history of animal hoarding in Colorado, where she had been the subject of a cease-and-desist order, and she apparently fled to this rural part of Arizona. Some of the animals we found on the property are elderly and could have been living in these conditions for years. The Apache County Sheriff's Department received tips about problems on the property, but did not have the resources to seize and care for so many animals. That's why they called on us to assist with animal handling, transportation, sheltering, and placement.
Now that the sheriff has seized the animals, The HSUS is removing them from the property and transporting them to a temporary shelter, where they'll receive water, food, and veterinary attention. United Animal Nations is providing care and sheltering assistance, and PetSmart Charities® has generously donated pet food and other essential supplies, as well as sending staff to the emergency shelter.
We also learned that local law enforcement has arrested the owner on animal cruelty charges. Though animal hoarders sometimes begin with good intentions, there's no doubt that these animals were suffering. Finally, this long saga of mistreatment and neglect is coming to an end.
P.S. HSUS staff are also in Missouri this week, helping a local group with veterinary care, transportation, and placement of more than 120 puppy mill dogs to HSUS Emergency Services Placement Partners.
This post originally appeared on Pacelle's blog, A Humane Nation.