261 Dogs Seized from Polk Co FL “Rescue”
May 30, 2010
There are 3 notices highlighted in red/white on the home page of this FL Labrador Retriever rescue’s website. Two of the notices are to remind applicants to pay the $25 application fee if you want to be considered for adopting a dog. (If you are approved, they’ll knock the $25 off the $265 fee required to actually adopt a dog.) The other notice is that there is a “temporary hold on pet surrenders”. To wit:
In what authorities are calling the largest case of animal abuse in Polk County history, a Polk City husband and wife were arrested Thursday and each charged with 261 counts of animal cruelty.
Upon investigation, Animal Control officers and Sheriff’s Office deputies found 226 dogs and 35 puppies of various breeds malnourished, infested with fleas and parasites and in very poor health.
“According to the deputies that were on scene during the investigation, the house wasn’t fit for humans or animals,” [Polk Sheriff Grady] Judd said. “Our deputies had to wear gas masks or protective cover over their mouth and noses because the stench (of urine and feces) was so bad in the house.”
Judd said one of the dogs died while the animals were being removed from home for transport to the Animal Control center for examination and treatment.
According to the O’Malleys’ arrest affidavit, dogs were found in every area of the 3,000-square-foot house – the kitchen, the bathrooms, the three bedrooms, the closets and the porches.
In addition to the inhumane living conditions, a Vet found that many of the dogs had hookworms and whipworms, were severely malnourished with ribs and spines easily visible, and likely had not been fed in several days. The dogs had apparently eaten a black leather couch as well as part of the couple’s bed.
The dog breeds included Labrador retriever, golden retriever, lab mixes, great Dane, cattle dogs, sharpei, dalmation [sic], shepherd mixes, bulldog and Belgian malinois.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, several of the dogs had not been neutered or spayed, which is a violation of policy for animal rescue organizations.
Perhaps this is where the “lab mixes” referenced above comes in.
Is this a case of well intentioned rescuers becoming overwhelmed? Or maybe just plain old bad people trying to make a buck off “rescue”? Something else? I have no idea. While I understand that rescues count on adoption fees to help cover operating expenses, I do have a thing about rescues charging too much money.
Let’s face it, if I want a Lab mix or a even a garden variety purebred Lab, I can go to my local shelter and get one, probably neutered and vaccinated, for far less than $265. And in the case of this “rescue”, they either couldn’t afford to feed the dogs or simply were refusing to do so.
In these circumstances, perhaps it would have been best to stop accepting dogs before you got arrested for animal cruelty and maybe to have adopted a bunch out at greatly reduced fees – at least until you got your number of dogs down to a manageable level. I am not sure where these folks got the idea that $265 is a reasonable fee to adopt a malnourished dog loaded with intestinal parasites and living in filth. Even at my local kill shelter, they at least clean the kennels regularly and you know – feed the dogs.