Belfast Telegraph

30 feral Chihuahuas and Rottweiler rescued from Ulster pensioner's house

Neglected Chihuahuas were so petrified they tried to climb up walls

By Victoria O'Hara

A woman who helped rescue 30 neglected dogs from a Northern Ireland pensioner’s home has told of how discovering the pets in such a shocking condition will “haunt her”.

The dogs— all Chihuahua crosses and a Rottweiler— were in a “major state of neglect” and many had become “almost feral”.

The owner who is in her 80s had allowed them to roam throughout her property and garden laying food out for them.

But according to volunteers at Grovehill Animal Shelter who rescued them they had begun to form a pack mentality, were not toilet-trained and had never been vaccinated.

Last week it appeared the pensioner could not cope with the growing number of dogs— many believed to be a result of breeding amongst themselves.

She picked up the phone and called the Animal Shelter.

An animal welfare officer visited her home and discovered the shocking number and condition of the animals.

The dogs — the youngest just four months old and the eldest 16 years—were living in bedrooms, the bathroom and outside the house. Many had badly overgrown nails, matted hair, and rotted teeth.

Within 24 hours the charity launched a rescue operation to remove the dogs. Three volunteers including shelter proprietor, Linda Hill, were part of the team.

During the first of a two-day operation over 20 dogs were removed.

Six needed urgent medical attention and were transferred to the Dogs Trust in Scotland. One has since been put down due to complications including a serious heart murmur.

The small charity is now caring for 24 dogs.

“I wasn’t prepared for what I would see, and I certainly didn’t think we would be moving over 20 dogs out of a house that day. It will haunt me,” said Linda.

“So many had never felt human touch before so they were petrified. They were scurrying out under furniture and trying to run up walls. They were almost like feral dogs.”

Miss Hill described the woman as an “animal hoarder”.

“She knew it herself that it was getting out of control,” Miss Hill said.

“Some animal owners believe if there is enough food put out that is enough to look after them, but it is so much more.

“She couldn't possibly have known they were ill when she'd more than 30 dogs living with her. She wouldn't have realised until she would have found them dead in the house.”

It is understood the woman will not face prosecution.

“It is a case that shows how things can get out of control,” Miss Hill said. “But they need to know there are people who can help.”

But the case has left the charity struggling to cope. “It has stretched our resources. So we would appeal to anyone, if you have any spare coins and are kind enough to help please donate it to us.”

Background

The Grovehill Animal Shelter is hoping to re-home as many of the dogs as possible. “We have already had people contacting us who are interested in providing a home for the dogs,” Linda Hill said. “There are some of the dogs, because of the condition they are in, who will need some more time to become ready. But we welcome all queries.” Anyone interested can call 028 82250058.

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