Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 17, 2014

Rescued dogs recovering

Nearly 3 dozen canines left at city rental home; former tenants sought

— CUMBERLAND — Thirty-three dogs found inside an unoccupied Greene Street property Friday are now recovering from poor health conditions, thanks to an outpouring of community support and the services of two Keyser veterinarians.

“It’s horrible. It’s probably the worst case we have ever seen here in Allegany County,” said Tina Rafferty, executive director of the private, nonprofit Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation, which is in a management agreement with the county.

It was mid-afternoon Friday when authorities became aware that there were dozens of dogs left behind in an unoccupied residence at 661 Greene St. where the tenants had moved out a few weeks earlier, possibly by  eviction.

The tenants had resided in the property for 19 years and the landlord reportedly had no idea about the nearly three dozen dogs that her former tenants had left behind.

The identities of the former tenants and their whereabouts were under investigation Monday by the C3I Unit and shelter personnel following consultation with the State’s Attorney’s Office.

While the investigation continues with the possibility of criminal charges, the rescued canines are now in good hands — but they are not yet in good condition.

“A lot of the dogs have skin issues from the ammonia in the house from urine and feces. They were closed up in the house and all of them were infested with fleas and suffering from hair loss.

“They have all been treated and vaccinated by Mountain View veterinarians. We set up a triage area outside the shelter and all of the dogs were examined and treated individually. We had an assembly line going,” said Rafferty.

The veterinarians who treated the dogs arrived at the shelter after their work day ended at Keyser. They arrived between 5 and 6 p.m. and finished the examinations after 9 p.m. “The dogs have all been treated and are being fed grain-free food,” she said. That type of food is particularly helpful for relief of skin issues.

The dogs ranged in ages from 2 weeks old to a 10-year-old dog that is believed to be the “mother dog” to many of the canines. “They are small beagle and spaniel mixes of some sort and some terrier breeds,” said Rafferty.

“It’s amazing that we found them all alive, given the condition of the house. Their medical conditions could have been much worse. We are monitoring them and they are holding their own,” she said.

For now, volunteers have been sitting with the dogs and trying to socialize the dogs, many of whom possibly never before had contact with humans. “All of the dogs were loose in the house. We think some of them were never out of the house. Some of the dogs were hiding from us and we had to search through the house to find them,” said Rafferty.

“The dogs will come around. It’s just going to take some time and a lot of TLC,” said Rafferty. “But none of them are ready for adoption. It’s going to take a while.”

The dog population at the shelter shot up by 50 percent with Friday’s rescue. Monday, there were 90 dogs housed in the shelter on Furnace Street.

“We are asking folks to consider fostering some of our older dogs. We are also working with some rescues in Vermont and Connecticut and other locations.”

Rafferty also expressed a note of gratitude.

“We would just like to thank everyone. The community once again has stepped up in a large way and we can’t thank everyone enough — the folks coming out to volunteer, the online donations and products that have been donated,” said Rafferty.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the shelter and care of the rescued dogs may visit www.ashelterofhope.com.

The animal shelter is manned by 12 full- and part-time employees. The shelter also has a contingent of up to 65 volunteers and a core group of volunteers that staffs the facility during the weekends.

Jeffrey Alderton may be contacted at jlalderton@times-news.com.

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