At the end of May, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, rescue workers from the Humane Society donned hazmat suits and gas masks, as if they were about to engage in trench warfare or bust a meth lab. Instead, they walked into the house and found 89 dogs living in some of the worst conditions they’d ever seen.
There were dogs of all kinds—mostly shepherd mixes—cooped up in one house and living in their own filth piled six to eight inches deep. Even the staircase was caked in the stuff. A few animals were outside, but still tied to doghouses, given minimal food and water, and left to bake in 100-degree weather.
Photos from the rescue show dogs in kennels, their fur matted with urine and feces. Some were developing nasty skin conditions, but many were lucky enough to be protected by their coats.
Unfortunately, they weren’t protected from the high ammonia levels permeating the air—the reason the rescue workers were wearing gas masks. If the dogs ever got out of this, many would end up completely blind. There are photos of some dogs who already have ghostly white eyes.
Police haven't yet filed charges in this case, and the rescue groups aren't revealing exactly who the owners are. But in this case, according to a spokesperson for a Texas rescue group, it was a case of a few unneutered pets being left to their own devices. Many of these rescue dogs bear a certain resemblance to one another.
Camille Bates with Midwest Animal Rescue and Services in Brooklyn Park says situations like these often start with “a good heart.” People who hoard animals set out with the intent to “save” a few.
But when this kind of behavior combines with mental illness, things can spiral out of control quickly. The unneutered animals keep breeding and the owner keeps adopting, keeps “saving and saving” until they can’t even manage basic care.
“It gets out of hand and the dogs suffer,” she says. “It hurts the human and it hurts the pets.”
The 89 dogs are safely out of the house and being held in a barn for safekeeping. It’s not a luxurious home by any means. The heat index is sitting at 110 degrees, and there’s no air conditioning. But it’s the best the dogs can get for now. They’re starting to “come around,” Bates says, socializing and playing again.
The next best hope is in the Midwest. Texas' shelters are in "crisis mode." They're full to the brim, and placing the dogs might take up to six months. Come July, the heat might not make that a tenable wait.
So, on Saturday, 46 of these dogs will make the long journey to Minnesota and arrive in Midwest’s vet clinic for care. (Others are going to Iowa and Wisconsin.) From there, they'll get a shot at a better life. It’s Midwest’s job to get as many of these animals as they can into the hands of foster owners. If they can’t, the dogs go back to the barn.
To learn more about fostering a dog, you can visit Midwest’s website.