THUNDER BAY— Animal rescue organizations in Thunder Bay have retrieved 47 malnourished dogs in rough condition from a city residence.
The small dogs, including Shih-tzus and Pekingese breeds, were picked up Friday by the Northern Reach Rescue Network after being contacted by the family of the person who had the animals. The individual recently passed away.
Sixteen dogs with the most severe health issues were sent to the Toronto Humane Society where they were immediately placed on fluids and antibiotics.
Two of these had to have paws amputated, while some may lose their sight because of eye infections.
Robin Ratz, who works with Northern Reach and Paws for Love Dog Rescue, says the situation the dogs were found in was a clear case of hoarding.
"The house was in shambles. The urine smell was so strong that, even with masks, it penetrated our nostrils," Ratz said in an interview Monday.
She described the conditions as the worst she has ever seen.
"They were left in very small, confined areas, maybe two by two. Every one of them was matted, saturated in their own feces and urine. It was the saddest thing I've seen," Ratz said.
One of the rescued animals was so matted that, after he was groomed, his weight fell from 6.9 pounds to 5.9 pounds.
Despite their poor condition, Ratz believes that once the dogs are treated and fully recovered, there should be little difficulty finding good homes for them.
"Every one of these dogs is sweet. They don't growl at all. Part of it is probably their little spirits have been broken," Ratz said. "We're hoping to mend that."
Adoptions will happen, however, only after the animals are properly rehabilitated.
"They need to decompress. They need to get used to living in better conditions. They need to get food in their bellies that is very easy to digest," Ratz said.
She said she's always amazed by the fact that dogs who have been mistreated the most are often the ones with the best personalities.
Ratz is currently fostering two of the dogs for the Adopt A Mutt dog rescue organization.
Adopt A Mutt founder Sam Kannegiesser observed that all the animals seem to be very resilient.
"We see nothing but love coming out of them. They're starting to wag their tails. Ive seen videos of some of the ones sent to southern Ontario, and they're already playing with toys. It's like their lights have been turned on," Kannegiesser said.
In addition to the pair with Adopt A Mutt, six dogs are currently in the care of Paws For Love in Thunder Bay.
The remaining 39 are being nursed back to health at three agencies in southern Ontario.