Nearly 140 Neglected Dogs Rescued From Residential Property, Given Second Chance at Life

January 25, 2021 Updated: January 31, 2021

Almost a year after a large-scale dog-hoarding intervention that shocked the animal rescuers to the core, the once-neglected dogs are now enjoying their second chance at life.

The rescued pups were put up for adoption into new forever homes; one has even been reunited with his original family, the Humane Society of the United States told The Epoch Times via email.

Laura Koivula, the manager of animal crimes for the Humane Society, said that when their staff and Florida’s Dixie County Sheriff’s Department visited a 5-acre residential property near Old Town on Feb. 25 last year, they encountered a horrific sight: approximately 140 caged dogs in a state of neglect, many without food or water.

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The Humane Society assisted the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office in rescuing nearly 140 dogs from a residential property near Old Town, Florida, on Feb. 25, 2020. (Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS)

Koivula said the team was struck by “how tragic the scene was.”

“The rain really underscored how bleak an existence these dogs were living,” she said.

“Many of the dogs were living in filthy hutches which were caked with feces and leaking from the heavy rain.

“Some of the dogs had missing fur, sores, and itchy skin. In spite of this, many of the dogs were eager for attention from the responders.”

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One room contained approximately 20 dogs (Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS)

“A lot of the cages, enclosures, were wired shut,” the Humane Society’s Kiersten Anderson said in video shot during the rescue, “so, we were wondering when the last time they had been out.”

The team also found numerous skulls of deceased animals in a shallow trench among trees on the same property.

It took most of the day to remove the dogs from the property, Koivula told The Epoch Times. Working late into the night, the team ensured all dogs were settled into comfortable Humane Society partner shelters before thorough veterinary exams commenced the following day.

(Video by The HSUS)

The sheriff’s department first caught wind of the case when a Dixie County resident’s dog went missing in January last year. A local offered a tip about the dog’s possible whereabouts in response to a social media post, WCJB reported. When deputies arrived at the Old Town property, one of the suspects drove up with the missing dog in their vehicle.

That’s when deputies launched an investigation, inviting the Humane Society to attend a property inspection. Five suspects were arrested and held in jail on a $145,000 bond each, on 145 charges of animal cruelty, according to WCJB.

All but three of the dogs on the property were surrendered to the Humane Society, which, in collaboration with the sheriff’s department, planned to rescue the remaining dogs inside the dilapidated home and trailer.

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A Humane Society team member carries a dog for her first veterinary inspection (Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS)

“After a couple of weeks of receiving expert care and TLC from our team, the animals were transported to rescue partners for placement,” Koivula told The Epoch Times.

“It’s apparent that these dogs were suffering from severe neglect. We often can’t be certain how the animals came to be in a neglect situation.”

Koivula said the dogs were “transferred to several shelter partners and absorbed into their populations for adoption,” so the Humane Society does not know for sure exactly how many have been adopted.

“As they were transferred to rescue and shelter partners back in March [last year],” said Koivula, “we have every reason to believe that many of them have been adopted by now and are well on their way to settling into their new lives!”

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The Humane Society’s Laura Koivula comforts dogs upon releasing them from a filthy trailer (Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS)

All rescued dogs’ details were compared to Dixie County’s lost and stolen dogs reports at the time of the intervention, in hopes of reuniting some of the pups with their original owners. For one lucky pup, it worked.

A dog named Junior, previously presumed lost or stolen, was happily reunified with his family.

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After being rescued, Junior shares a happy reunion with his original family. (Photo by Morgan Rivera/The HSUS)

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