On Sunday, 149 dogs were seized from Willamette Animal Rescue in Oregon and the organization’s president, Alicia Inglish was charged with 120 counts of animal neglect and one count of evidence tampering:
While 120 of the dogs met the legal standard for neglect, all were in need of medical care.
Don Thompson, spokesman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, said authorities had inspected the facility twice previously but the allegations which led to those inspections turned out to be unfounded. This time however, dogs were found in terrible conditions at the 7500 square foot building used by Willamette Animal Rescue:
Inside were 149 dogs, some starving, some whose eyes were sealed shut with bodily fluids, authorities said. As many as five dogs were kept in kennels designed for one. The stench was overwhelming. Waste ran down from one crate perched atop many others, to pool on the concrete floor.
Sharon Harmon, executive director of the Oregon Humane Society which took 110 of the seized dogs, describes the neglect as “tragic”:
Some of the dogs were in such an advanced state of starvation that technicians will have to use a “refeeding program” to reintroduce small amounts of easily digestible food.
“Those dogs were shut down. They don’t show interest in food,” Harmon said.
Harmon said officials found just two bags of dog food in the warehouse, along with the dogs’ primary food: stale bread.
Someone who adopted a dog from Willamette Animal Rescue one year ago recalled paying between $150 – $250 for the pet, who was unhealthy. The adopter never saw the building.
Ms. Inglish reportedly worked at a pet supply store for about 6 months last year but stopped showing up for work in September.
A former volunteer says the dogs were pulled from pet killing facilities in CA and were fed both canned and dry food. He believes Ms. Inglish simply became overwhelmed because of her desire to save the dogs from being killed at the pound.
The Marion Co pound took in 25 of the dogs and the remaining 14 went to the Willamette HS.
There are a number of photos at the links and the dogs do appear to be starving and neglected. There are even tiny adult dogs with their bones showing who would require a very small amount of food daily to maintain their body weight, especially considering that the dogs were reportedly not exercised. AP has a story on the case as well. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said they expect to make further arrests as the investigation continues.
One of my concerns in this case, as in many similar cases, is that the dogs were removed from an apparently neglectful situation and taken to shelters where their lot in life should be immediately improved. But the day after the dogs were taken to area shelters, a reporter touring the Oregon Humane Society wrote:
The dogs remained in the condition they were found in, with feces matted in one brown miniature pinscher’s coat and yellow vomit staining the piebald white-and-brown coat of a Chihuahua mix.
The same article mentions the dogs’ social skills will be assessed “to determine whether they can be adopted.” I think it’s safe to say that starving and/or sick dogs crammed into filthy cages 24/7 probably have poor social skills right now, at best. Behavioral assessments should not be made at this time or at any time in the near future. At the very least, the dogs need a chance to regain their physical health and have some of their social needs addressed through regular walks, bathing, play and other care before a fair evaluation can be conducted.
I hope these dogs will immediately receive the care and sheltering they need while the legal case is sorted and ultimately find loving homes.
(Thank you Clarice for sending me the links on this story.)