UPDATE: On Thursday, March 6, the owners released the dogs to Wanderers' Rest Humane Association.
One shelter in Madison County is bursting at the seems after rescuing 19 dogs and 6 cats from a home in Brookfield, where they were found living in deplorable conditions.
Brookfield's new dog control officer, Edward Dineen, responded to complaints and found the animals. According to workers at Wanderers' Rest Humane Society, all of the cats were kept in one room, while some dogs were chained up in a nearby barn.
Rescuers believe the owners weren't living in the house that lacked running water, but had someone come over to feed the animals instead. After learning about the home on Monday, staff members at Wanderers' say they believe it had been several days since the last time anyone had checked in on the animals.
"They had bags of food laid out on the floor for these guys," said Wanderers' humane educator Dee Schafer. "But there were rats in the food so these dogs were ingesting food that had rat feces and rat urine in it."
After a medical evaluation, it was determined that three of the dogs will have to be put down. Many of the dogs have gone blind, some have lost the use of their legs and some are suffering from dermatitis and mange. They are currently quarantined in the shelter to prevent spreading any illnesses to the other dogs at Wanderers'.
Sixteen cats were confined to the master bedroom of the house. Of the six rescuers were able to catch, only one is healthy enough to be kept with the shelter's other cats.
After living in a confined space with urine and feces, the cats have such severe resperatory problems that staff members aren't sure whether they'll be able to help them.
According Schafer, the owners refused to sign forms to relinquish ownership of the animals. The shelter was only allowed to take the animals in for observance because the owners couldn't show proof of up-to-date rabies vaccinations and the dogs were not licensed.
The owners say they will fight to get their animals back. Wanderers' is doing everything in its power to prevent that from happening.
"Unless these dogs are licensed they cannot have them back. That is our one saving grace right now," said Schafer. "I am going to pray that no one gives them the money to license these animals."
The owners are charged with owning unlicensed dogs and keeping animals in unclean and unfit conditions. More charges could follow. For each of the animals they will be billed $40 for rabies shots, $10 for additional medications as well as redeption fees.
The rescue has left the shelter with precious little ability to take on any new animals in the near future and has left Wanderers' with a high need for additional resources to care for the neglected animals. If you are interested in helping out, you can contact Wanderers' Rest Humane Association at http://wanderersrest.org/