5/16/2020 | Von Young
May 16th, 2018
Over 50 Boston Terrier type dogs had been identified as living in a home with little to no human interaction at a house that had been abandoned for quite some time. Inside the home, there were 50+ small breed dogs living in varying degrees of squalor. Floors were caked with 5-8 inches of compacted waste, sewage and feces. All of the animals were in some state of illness, both mental and physical.
There were dogs who were locked inside rooms who have never seen the sun, and as a result have poor vision and cataracts. They did not know what sun or grass was. Water bowls were a strange item that they were introduced to in foster care – they didn’t know anything besides the sewage puddles in the house to drink.
In the backyard were sheds bolted shut that housed several female dogs, some locked in stacked crates, with no access to light, food, water, and space to move. These animals hadn’t been tended to in months, and their bones were literally protruding from their tiny frames. It is a wonder that they were able to survive as long as they had.The other shed housed a macabre collection of skeletons and refuse.
The SPCA Team pulled 53 dogs off of the premise, and back at the shelter began the arduous task of administering vaccines and fluids, triaging illness, and dispensing medications for those fairing the worst. We had all hands on deck: staff, fosters and volunteers all pulled together to complete this feat.
Within hours, every dog was fully vetted and had a treatment plan. Foster parents began showing up to take their dogs home for the first real night of peaceful rest in a long time. By the evening, every animal was accounted for and safe.
Within days, the extremely pregnant mama dog gave birth to one healthy puppy when tragedy struck. She was unable to successfully give birth to the rest of her babies. Our shelter veterinarian, Dr. Coleman, performed an emergency C-section and with that the 53 hoarding case dogs became 58!
It cost over $10,000 for the Fred SPCA just to get all of the #BT58 dogs vaccinated, spayed/neutered and treated their numerous and severe ailments. We said YES to helping these dogs, without knowing how we were going to fund their medical costs. We were and still are so thankful to The Bissell Pet Foundation who were one of the first signs of relief for the Fredericksburg SPCA. They graciously stepped up and donated $5000 to our life saving efforts! The community rallied behind the hoarding case, and came together to raise the rest of the funds we needed!
May 16th, 2020
Fast forward to today, exactly 2 years later! The Fred SPCA was planning to host a #BT58 reunion play group to catch up with the survivors, but alas, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed any type of in person event. The trials and the triumph of the BT58 case are too beautiful not to share, and we really wanted to showcase how a community coming together, believing in the work we can do has changed so many lives!
We were lucky enough to catch up with some of the adopted families to talk about the healing after the horror. Julie explains that when she adopted Rizzo, he was a shadow of what he blossomed into. “Rizzo was underweight and scared of doors, steps, grass – pretty much everything. We thought he might be blind because his eyes were so cloudy and the insides of his ears were completely white due to fleas.”
Nowadays, Rizzo is full of life and character that could only surface in a loving home. “He has ALL his fur back and is a normal weight (maybe even a little on the chunky side). He loves walking, although he doesn’t have much endurance–especially if it’s warm. He is very loving and loves burying his nose in the blankets. Thank you for saving my boy!”
When we asked Julie what it was like to adopt a dog from a neglected case, she definitely touched our hearts with how much she has learned from Rizzo. “Just knowing how much better off he is. Seeing how far he has come and looking back and seeing what he can do now. Patience is a virtue and that it’s worth the hassles and struggles to see these babies learn to be a beloved pet.”
Adopted BT58 survivor Dexter’s story was not unlike Rizzo’s. Dexter’s mom Vicki tells us that when he arrived at her house, he was so scared that she was not sure he sat or laid down for two days straight. “Dexter was terrified of everything. He stayed in his crate, didn’t know how to drink from a bowl, and was fascinated with the grass. He would pull his body across it to rub his stomach. His ears were eaten up from fleas and had sores in them and his skin was itchy and dry.”
With love and patience, Dexter has become an entirely different dog. Vicki invested heavily into his health and happiness because adopting a dog from a severe neglect case, such as the BT58 comes with it’s own set of hurdles and challenges. “Dex is still unsure of strangers. He gained his voice after we had had him about six months, and now lets people know when they get too close or do something he’s not fond of. I had a dog behavior specialist come in and work with him for several months in our home to help him gain confidence.”
We truly feel that the people who opened their hearts and homes played one of the most important roles in writing the happy endings these dogs deserved. You would not recognize Dexter today from the dog he once was. “ He loves walks, is great on a leash, and sleeps like a baby in our bed every night. Dex was in a costume contest in October. He won first place for his Superman costume. He was so proud when he was showing off his costume, his cape flying in the wind!”
The visual of one of these dogs coming from horrific conditions and being transformed into a confident superhero because of the deep love that healed him is enough to reignite the passion we have when cases like this weigh heavy on our hearts.
We asked Vicki what it felt like to transform a life from a neglect case. “It was so amazing to see how far he has come and I’m looking forward to seeing how far he will go. I love that we know that we made a difference in his life and can give him love and security now. He’s so loyal, wherever I am, that’s where he is.”
Having been through the trial and triumph in these last two years, Vicki lets those who may choose to adopt their own animal from an abuse or neglect case that patience is key. “Patience, every dog is different, they are all on their own journey to recovery. It’s on their time schedule.”
We are deeply touched that the adopters of the #BT58 survivors have stayed in touch with not only us, but each other. They celebrate their birthdays together with mini playgroups, and post and share photos with one another. As the trauma fades from their hearts, the new memories they make with their families and friends shape their continued journey to health and happiness.
We are forever thankful to the community for rallying behind us two years ago, and for their continued support today. We are thankful to our partner shelters, who helped triage and intake. We are deep in gratitude for the staff, volunteers and fosters who faced the horrors head on, committed to the safety and healing of the 58 dogs in our care. Last, but not least, we thank the adopters who opened their hearts and homes to the broken and who continue the journey of healing, triumph and love.
If you would like to help us continue our life saving work please consider making a gift to our mission through mail at 10819 Courthouse Rd, Fredericksburg VA, 22408 or by making a gift on our DONATE page.