RESCUE / HOARDING: WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH ?

Submitted by Loree Levy-Schwartz, Chairman, ASTC Rescue Committee

The summer of 2012 and February 2015
What do these dates have in common? Two very poignant rescues that we did.

In 2012 we took 26 Shih Tzu from a hoarder who thought she was doing right by these dogs. They were in horrific condition. All have have been spayed or neutered and are happily in their new homes!

Fast forward to February 24, 2015: I took in 17 Shih Tzu from another situation that was almost equal to the one in 2012. But in this group, 3 were pregnant. Within a week, there were 7 live puppies. So, add 7 to 17 and there you have it, 24 Shih Tzu from this current hoarder. These Shih Tzu were never allowed outside for fear someone would see the numbers. The ages range from the newborns to 10 weeks and all the way to 7 years old.. All have now been spayed or neutered and some are still looking for their new forever homes.

One of our foster homes, Divya, is caring for one of the moms and her three pups. She is supplementing one puppy that we almost lost. The devastating condition of the dogs prompted her to write a strong article for our Foundation and with the permission of author Divya Anish and the Schwartz Family Veterinary Scholarship and Animal Welfare Foundation, I share her thoughts:

Rescuing from Hoarders
by Divya Anish

“Animal hoarders…a word that causes us rescue folk to cringe. We have seen firsthand the horrors of it, and the long term effect it has on the dogs we save from such situations.

Animal hoarding is defined as: keeping a higher-than-usual number of animals as domestic pets without having the ability to properly house or care for them, while at the same time denying this inability. One of the worst aspects of it is that people with hoarding disorder often don’t see it as a problem. The poor animals are the ones to suffer, till help comes along their way.

Most often, the dogs we rescue from these situations are filthy dirty, matted beyond words can describe and have received very little to absolutely no medical care and attention their entire lives. They have lived their lives in extremely unclean and unsanitary environments that reek. That only describes their physical plight.

The mental state of these dogs is heartbreaking. Most of them come to us shy, scared and have that “deer caught in the headlight” look. Mostly everything is a first time for them – being petted and spoken to lovingly, getting individual attention, smelling nice and clean, being taken out for walks, getting healthy meals etc. And when these dogs finally begin to settle, slowly forgetting the horrors of their past years and blooming into loving, confident and happy little ones – thats when we finally sit back and relax and toast their courage and spirit.

What is it that we all can do to help prevent such a situation from happening? Keeping our eyes open always. Report animal hoarders to concerned authorities. Don’t hesitate. Do not close your eyes to it. Your action will help these animals gain a life of freedom,love and care that they deserve.”

Final thoughts, breeders: take inventory of your numbers, because no one is exempt and there is sometimes a fine line between breeder and hoarder.

[To donate to the ASTC Rescue Fund: checks payable to American Shih Tzu Club wth notation ‘Rescue Fund’ may be mailed to Debora Wheeler, Treasurer, 22 Joe Jones Rd, Gilmanton NH 03237 ]