More than 100 dogs living in deplorable conditions were rescued Tuesday morning from a property just outside Lebanon in southeast Wilson County.
Animal Rescue Corps assisted Wilson County Animal Control in the rescue efforts.
According to a press release from ARC, it's the largest case of hoarding ever addressed in the county.
When officials arrived to the property, they found about 110 medium to large dogs, various mixes of breeds, living in pens without doors and full of feces.
“A lot of dehydration, an incredible amount of mange, a good percentage of these dogs have mange, and internal and external parasites,” said Scotlund Haisley, president of the Animal Rescue Corps.
ARC Tennessee State Liaison Peg Petrelli said the dogs did not have shade from the sun or any clean water.
She described the living conditions as extremely crowded, unsanitary and unsafe.
Petrelli said one dog has been found dead.
Many of the rescued dogs suffer from medical conditions such as mange, broken legs, bone disorders and blindness, because they have not had daily care or medical attention.
All of the animals were surrendered to Wilson County Animal Control.
Mary Burger, director of the Wilson County Animal Control, told Nashville's News 2 they never would've been able to handle the rescue on their own.
“I would've had to bring them all back and euthanize them,” said Burger, “I didn't want that for those animals. I wanted them to have a chance to have a life.”
That's exactly what Haisley said these animals will have now, “They never had the opportunity to be dogs. This is not the way anybody should be living. But with a lot of time, love and compassion, they'll turn into them.”
The woman who owns the property, told Burger she had been trying to take care of the animals, but the situation got out of control.
“It wasn't done maliciously,” Burger said she had been told, “She told me that they were alive and being alive was better than someone coming in and euthanizing them, so she felt like she was doing good for the animals.”
Wilson County authorities said the property owner would be cited and placed on probation for a year.
Sheriff's investigators added, the woman has been warned if she does this again, she will be arrested and taken to jail.
Burger said, “I can sleep tonight, knowing that these animals are going to be taken care of.”
ARC is safely removing all of the dogs from the property and transporting them to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville, where they will receive veterinary exams, vaccinations and medical treatment.
ARC will take care of the animals until they can be placed with shelters and rescue groups.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Animal Rescue Corps, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “Operation Freedom Dogs.” Include your name, contact info, and availability.
You can also donate cash, gift cards to major stores, or make food donations towards lunches for volunteers.
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