It’s sad but it happens all of the time. Innocent animals end up paying for the poor choices and bad actions of their owners. Dixie Adoptables was recently made aware of a situation that left two mother dogs and their puppies abandoned at a house with no clean water and no food. Fortunately a concerned neighbor was quick to act, giving them fresh water and food until someone could be found to take them.
When we arrived, we found one mother tied to a chain which was fastened to the narrow porch of the house. She didn’t have a house or shade, and her only protection from weather (which has been stormy now for several weeks) was an old tarp that had mostly fallen down. Unable to move more than a few feet, she was forced to poop in the same small area where she cared for and nursed her puppies. Although she was close to starvation with all of her ribs clearly visible, the puppies were in good health. She gave them all of the nutrition she had and there was none left for her.
These conditions are not unusual in rescue operations, particularly with abandoned properties. It is not unexpected to find empty food and water bowls in these situations. But this was different. They had only been left there for a couple of days, yet conditions showed that they had been undernourished and neglected for a long time…possibly their whole lives.
In the back of the house, there was a extremely small metal pen with another mother and her juvenile son. It was obvious at first glance that she had not been out of the pen for a very long time. The juvenile jumped on the fence and was happy to see us, but the mother cowered in the tiny dog house that gave her limited protection from the weather. When we opened the gate and put a leash on the younger dog, he happily ran out of the pen and greeted us affectionately. It was obvious though that the mother had learned not to trust people. She sank further into the back of the house, terrified of the intruders.
It took a bit of coaxing to get her to look at us and she refused to move out of the corner of her house. The pen was so small that there wasn’t room for anyone to wedge between the house and the fence, so getting her out was going to be a challenge if she resisted. We had a catch pole with us, but in this tiny confined space, it was useless. Reaching his hand around, the rescuer slowly reached towards her and spoke to her in a soothing voice. She didn’t come any closer, but she did let him touch her nose without becoming defensive. He stroked her nose gently and continued talking to her in a soothing voice. Ever so slowly, her expression relaxed a little. She raised her head, which was completely covered with latched-on fleas, and finally looked at him. He carefully passed a slip-lead around her nose and pushed it over her ears to her neck. That was the limit of his reach.
As soon as she felt the leash tightening around her neck, she drew back, frightened. He continued to pet her nose and talk to her, then slowly eased her forward with the leash. Without any warning, she moved forward, sticking her head out of the dog house door, but when she saw the other rescuers, she shrank back.
Without any other option, the rescuer decided to pull her out and see how she would react. If she lunged or attacked, he wouldn’t have enough room to get out of the way, so it was risky. She planted her paws on the rotted wood floor and refused to move, so he pulled a little harder, dragging her head and front paws out of the house. Once out of the house, she became a little less afraid and took a step towards the gate, but then a look of panic came into her eyes as she saw it standing open. It was obvious that she had not been allowed out of that little fence in a very long time and she was afraid of what might be out or what might happen if she went through it.
Over the next couple of minutes, he continued to half-coax, half-drag her through the gate. Once she was through it, her attitude changed instantly. She began sniffing around and wagging her tail, obviously enjoying the feel of something besides dirt under her feet. Although she was still scared, she allowed herself to be led to a kennel and placed inside without resisting.
When the mother who was chained to the porch was put on a leash and the chain was removed, she eagerly walked around the yard sniffing and exploring. She had spent a large portion of her life chained to that one spot, unable to move ten or fifteen feet out of the red dirt into the grass. She was obviously overjoyed to be able to walk around.
Once all of the dogs were in carriers and kennels, it was time to load them. The puppies were all in smaller carriers and the mother dogs were in medium sized kennels. With everyone loaded, they headed back to the shelter to start the process of intake assessment which includes flea removal and treatment, tests for heartworms and various other parasites and infections, bathing, vaccinations, and a full health screening.
Over the next few weeks, these dogs will hopefully all find new homes where they are loved and are a part of a family, not tied to a porch post or forced to live in their own waste in a pen no larger than a small closet. We will update you on their progress!
UPDATE #2: Against all odds, it turns out that all of the puppies are male. Also, the original published count was wrong. One mom has 9 puppies (all boys) and the other mom has one juvenile son. Can you imagine raising 9 boys?