You have, no doubt, read about animal hoarders and puppy mills, discovered and then broken up by law enforcement. Too many of these cases occur right here in West Georgia. Just a few short months ago 700 dogs and puppies were seized from a puppy mill in Berrien County, Georgia. Have you ever wondered what happens to those animals?

There are no shelters, anywhere in the U.S. that can take hundreds of animals at one time. Instead, large national animal welfare organizations network with smaller humane societies to secure positive outcomes. The animals involved are usually dogs, but a large scale rescue may involve cats, bunnies or other small animals, that are often in poor health.

Paws Humane Society is not large by any means, but we are the largest animal welfare organization situated between Atlanta and Birmingham. We shelter 100 or more companion animals under our roof on any given day. At the same time we have 70 – 90 pets in foster care. On any given day we average 5 – 7 animal intakes directly from our community. When contacted about an emergency outside of our region it can be quite a stretch to take in another 5, on the spot, without exceeding our capacity for care.

The bottom line in any decision to bring in animals is whether or not we have the resources to care for them and achieve positive outcomes. Overcrowding takes a toll on the mental and physical health of all our animals, not to mention the negative impact it has on our workers. We are mindful of the fact that too many hoarding cases began with a well-intentioned rescue mission.

Paws Humane Society works in partnership with Best Friends Animal Society, the Humane Society of the United States, the Georgia Coalition of Hope and the Pet Coalition of Muscogee and Harris Counties. We’re constantly in contact with other animal welfare organizations throughout Alabama and Georgia, sharing resources and information. We help wherever we can, knowing that one day our own community may require similar assistance.

We were recently asked by HSUS to assist with a hoarding case in Blakeley, Georgia. The dogs were living outside, many were tethered on chains. Some had shelter and some did not. There were 30 dogs in all and we were able to take 5. Other shelters, including Atlanta Humane Society, also took animals according to their capacity and all were saved.

These dogs were all sweet tempered, weighing in at 30 – 40 pounds. A couple of them had severe hair loss and the tarry looking skin that comes with an advanced case of demodex. Three were heartworm positive. The good news is that their medical issues are treatable. The bad news is that it may take some time for these dogs to fully trust humans. They are not at all aggressive, but they are terribly shy and frightened. Their names are Tonto, Hale, Nico, Fawn and Hendrix.

Nico and Hendrix were adopted almost immediately. Tonto and Hale are on the adoption floor as I write this. Fawn, who will need more time to heal, is with a loving foster caregiver.

One organization can’t do it all. It is only by working together than we can make a real and lasting difference in the lives of the animals and the people we serve.