As a Utah dog rescue worker, Brenda Gordon has seen lots of crazy situations in homes where the animals rule the roost. But she has never seen anything like this.
Gordon was among of phalanx of animal advocates scrambling Wednesday to care for 149 sick and hungry Chihuahua dogs rescued from the home of an animal lover turned hoarder who officials say lost control of his Ogden house.
“When this man first opened the door, we had to back up 10 feet,” Gordon, a spokeswoman for Pack 'N Pounce Animal Rescue, told the Los Angeles Times.
There were animals in the bed, on the couch, in the bathroom, in chairs, on the table. The house had become a kennel run amok. “But he loves every one of those dogs,” Gordon said. “There were no dead dogs. There were some very skinny dogs, but they all got food.”
Volunteers began removing the dogs this week after the unnamed owner called an animal shelter for help. Gordon said the man was not charged because he was looking for a solution to his problem.
“The shelter called us and asked us to investigate. I called him and he said he had 60 dogs,” Gordon told The Times. “I looked at the three volunteers with me and said, ‘We gotta go over there. Nobody has 60 dogs.' "
As it turned out, the owner had more than twice that many. Gordon said there was a misunderstanding because the dog owner spoke only Spanish.
Gordon told The Times that the neighbors did not know there were so many dogs inside the home, which sat on an impeccably-groomed property.
She said the man apparently had been taking in strays and allowing them to reproduce. Passersby also began dropping off unwanted pets over his 4-foot-high chain-link fence.
The dog population at the man’s home exploded over two years. The owner, who was in poor health and living on a limited income, shut off his electricity and telephone service to pay for dog food and even took the blankets off his bed to provide warmth for litters of puppies.
“The dogs just kept reproducing,” Gordon said. At least 16 of the rescued dogs are puppies. Officials have classified them all as mixed-breed Chihuahuas. The animals are suffering from starvation and ammonia burns from exposure to urine. Some have birth defects from inbreeding, Cousineau said.
“I know he meant well,” Gordon said. “But the situation just exploded.”
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