Written by Julie at Tri-State Sheltie Rescue
Many of you know the story of the Brooklyn hoarder dogs. For those that may be new to rescue and do not, in 2002 one of the very first things Tim and I ever did for rescue was pick up and transport 10 Shelties from a hoarder in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn for Long Island Sheltie Rescue. Being new to rescue we had no clue that these dogs had never been outside, were not potty trained in any way, never in a car and not socialized at all. The lived in a house with no utilities on (no electric, water or heat), windows boarded up, no ventilation, in total darkness in this house infested with mice and full of garbage from floor to ceiling.
The trip to Center Moriches was quite interesting as they were all throwing up, pooping and urinating and so scared. It took us about four hours to get there because initially we kept stopping to clean them up. Long Island Sheltie Rescue worked with and placed these ten dogs into loving homes. I fostered a puppy named Peanut who at six weeks old needed open heart surgery, He was so tiny special instruments had to be made for the surgery. He did wonderful and is thriving today in a great home! Without the surgery he would have died a slow death.
Fast forward to 2010 and while volunteering for NJ Sheltie Rescue, Dr. Abraham, the veterinarian who currently sits on our board of trustees, called me and asked if I could help him with 16 Shelties that needed rescue from a hoarder. I said of course before even asking my rescue head and in my conversation with Dr. A I soon realized this was the same hoarder from years earlier. Being new to rescue I was told the ASPCA was called about the other dogs and just assumed they were rescued. They were not. I was shocked and heartbroken to learn all those years they were still trapped in that house in total darkness.With help from others, we rented a U-haul, loaded it with crates, went and picked up the dogs, drove directly to Dr. Abraham who examined and vetted every single one (it was an assembly line in his office for hours on that Sunday afternoon), and the dogs were transported to a kennel used by NJ Sheltie Rescue. From there they were spayed/neutered and 8 went to Houston Texas Sheltie Rescue, some to surrounding state Sheltie Rescues and some stayed in NJ.
These dogs were terrified of everything – a leaf falling off the tree, TV sets, phones… They had no life experience and were almost feral. One had to sadly be euthanized for severe aggression. The rest are in forever homes, will never be 100% normal, but trust their families and are loved and cared for.
Since that time I made it my life’s mission to help the remaining 23 Shelties left behind in that house of horrors. It seemed everyone else had given up and I was told I was wasting my time more times than I can remember. For the next year and a half I went to city agency after city agency, everyone passing the buck and saying anything to get rid of me. We went through the FDNY, Dept of Health, NYPD, social workers, assemblymen… the list goes on.
During this time I kept making unannounced visits to the apartment of the hoarder and he seemed to take a liking to me. (The hoarder did not live in the home as it was unfit for human occupancy. He resided in an apartment a few blocks away where he had some more dogs.) Twice he gave me puppies – three in a shopping bag, not even five weeks old, as a bribe not to bring a social worker back. The pups were flea infested and malnourished. Another time two days before Christmas he gave us two four week old puppies, flea infested so badly their little necks were bleeding and they had fleas in their eyes. We spent over two hours picking over 100 fleas off their little bodies and I spent the next week bottle feeding them until they could learn how to eat regular food.
During this time, I had a lot of support from Sherry Heiser from Sad Eyes Animal Welfare in NJ and Jeany Berthold from Houston Texas Sheltie Rescue and together we exhausted every agency but kept having no luck. But the three of us kept researching other options.
Sherry got in touch with the Animal Legal Defense Fund – a group of attorneys who fight for animals rights. After a lengthy phone interview they wrote out a report and got in touch with the Brooklyn District Attorneys Office and sited every possible law that they felt was being broken. This was the turn around! The Brooklyn DA from the moment they heard about this case, stepped up and said they would help. It still took over another year (almost to the date) to get help for these dogs, but they never gave up and even when we hit obstacles and I was depressed, they kept saying, “Julie, don’t give up, if you give up, they have no one”.
The DA sent me to the home several times with undercover detectives armed with video cameras and recorders and after they felt they had what they were needed, we went to the judge, got a search and seizure warrant and this past February all the dogs were seized!
Since February the dogs have been held as “evidence” and could not be placed until the case was decided. It’s been very stressful during this time worrying about them being held in limbo and also worrying about the possibility of them being returned to the hoarder should we lose the case. But the law worked in favor of the good guys this time! Though the case hasn’t gone to trial yet, the dogs were forfeited today as the hoarder is so mentally ill and it is so apparent he cannot care for these dogs.
Today was the day we’ve waited for for two years! The dogs are being released and any dogs not being adopted by their foster homes will be coming into Tri-State Sheltie Rescue’s care. The DA and AC&C do not feel many foster homes will be adopting their fosters, so we are looking at the possibly of 20 Shelties or more.They are all still in need of tremendous medical care. Their teeth are so bad from the neglect and poor diet that every dog is in need of a dental. They all need blood work, spays/neuter…all the medical care they should have gotten in the last ten years and more. These dogs range in age from puppy to 14 years of age. The hoarder has been keeping these dogs like this since the 90’s. Generations of dogs have lived through that torture and all these dogs came from two.
The dogs will be coming into rescue in the next week. Some will be going to Sheltie rescues out of state after they are initially cared for, some will stay here with us. We are going to be in need of donations to help these dogs get all the help they need; both monetary and supplies wise.
They will need to be boarded initially, a truck rented to transport, crates for them to be transported in, flea/tick preventative, heart worm preventative, collars, leashes, food, and money to properly vet them all. If anyone would like to donate now, you can do so either via PayPal which you can find on the website – www.tristatesheltierescue.org– or by check by mail to:
PO Box 422
Malverne, NY, 11565.
Please make checks payable to TSSSR and note that your donation is for the Brooklyn Shelties. It is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity, so your donations are tax deductible!
Please pass this along to family, friends, post on your Facebook pages and websites. The rescue is going to need a lot of help and funds to care for these guys. Any help, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated and most needed!
If anyone is interested in adopting or fostering any of these dogs, please either contact Julie at: [email protected] or fill out an application which can be found on the website: www.tristatesheltierescue.org.
We’ve waited so long for this day and so many people have given constant support along the way. The Brooklyn DA’s office is amazing. If it was not for them, these dogs would still be in that horror house. This week marks the “official” one year anniversary since Tri-State Shetland Sheepdog Rescue opened it’s doors. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate!!!