Sunday, August 17, 2008

315-animal rescue sets agency record


A massive animal rescue Tuesday in Polk County is the largest in the history of the Humane Society of Missouri, the group said.

The group removed 315 animals from an 80-acre property near the southwest Missouri town of Pleasant Hope, where the animals lived in filthy conditions without adequate food, water and shelter, according to the Humane Society.

Most were underweight and suffered from various skin or coat conditions. Several dead animals were found.

The rescued animals include more than 70 dogs and three dozen cats, 51 rabbits, 40 exotic birds and 60 fish, along with horses, ducks, chickens, donkeys, goats and mice.

The property owner's name was not released, and it wasn't known whether charges will be filed.

The horses and farm animals are being treated at the Humane Society's Longfellow Rescue Ranch near Union. The exotic fish, mostly large koi and goldfish that were kept in above-ground swimming pools, are being cared for by a fish hatchery, said Jeane Jae, a Humane Society spokeswoman.

Most of the animals will be cared for at the Humane Society in St. Louis, where the first group arrived early Tuesday evening. About 110 animals came in two vans, including a trembling Chihuahua so thin his bones showed through his dirty coat.

A crew of at least 30 was ready to help.

"Oh, he's a nice one," said Cyndi Nason, the adoption center director, as she took the Chihuahua from his carrier.

He got his picture taken with his green medical card. He suffered from fleas, muscle loss and dental disease, said Claire Beckmeyer, a fourth-year veterinary student.

The dog had trouble standing on his own while she gently examined him.

He endured vaccination shots, a needle that drew blood for a heartworm test, a dose of dewormer, and a round of medicine for his fleas and ticks. He squirmed when his nails were clipped. The ear-cleaning didn't please him either.

But the Chihuahua finished his day in a kennel filled with blankets and toys, and plenty of food and water. He and the other animals will not be available for adoption for several weeks.

Staff writer Heather Ratcliffe and The Associated Press contributed to this

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