The animal control officer could tell the house was in ruins from the outside. Its owner was dead, and there was no one else left to look after the pets. But when they opened the front door, surely they must have wondered how anything could live in such conditions.
The animal rescue group called A-Team ELITE Rescue Dogs (henceforth A-Team Elite) operates in both Texas and New York. Its Texas branch saves animals of any age or health condition scheduled for destruction in state shelters. Rescued furbabies are medically treated, then sent to its sister organization in New York for adoption.
A-Team Elite’s workers must have seen some upsetting sights in its time, not least the consequences of animal hoarding. Hoarders of animals compulsively collect a large number of pets and become very attached to them. However, in many cases, they acquire too many animals to be able to properly care for them.
It’s important to note, though, that this isn’t necessarily an intentional act of cruelty. The owner’s attachment to their pets means often they don’t realize they are potentially harming their animals. Hoarding is more properly described as a psychological condition that can be detrimental to both the animals and their owner.
This was the kind of difficult situation A-Team Elite faced when it attended a Tennessee property in 2018. The building used to be a farmhouse, but it had fallen into disrepair. Officials didn’t know how bad things had become until its owner passed away, and his partner left.
According to an animal rescue group called Big Fluffy Dog Rescue (BFDR) , the house concealed a disturbing story. It explained the situation to its followers in March, 2018. “What I do know will give me nightmares for weeks,” its Facebook page related.
“The edited version is that the elderly lady on the property was probably the most tragic victim of all,” noted BFDR. Among many allegations on its Facebook page, the rescue group claimed she had got married to her now-deceased partner aged just 12 years old, and had never received any kind of formal schooling.
But the elderly lady wasn’t the only apparent victim in this house of horror; the man had also kept a great many dogs. “The husband who bred the dogs is now deceased,” BFDR reported, “and the woman has left the property and is getting help.”
Animal news website The Dodo revealed that the woman involved had since moved to a home for the elderly. On the other hand, there was still the matter of rescuing the dogs. In that regard, the investigating animal control officer must have been stunned by the conditions in which the pets had been left.
Footage revealed that the house had fallen into such disrepair that it looked uninhabitable. But it was still occupied, and dogs roamed all over the grounds, both inside and out. There were at least 43 canines at the farmhouse, and all of them were in desperate need of rescue.
Thankfully, someone was visiting the property to feed the dogs until rescuers could help them all. That, however, would be easier said than done. Some of the dogs were feral, and many of them were nervous around people. Rescuing them constituted a massive undertaking.
And that’s where A-Team Elite came in, after it was contacted by local rescuers. In March 2018, its founder Cindy Droogmans told The Dodo how it planned to tackle such a huge operation. “I built up a group with several rescues to bring these dogs in safely,” she said. “This is teamwork.”
BFDR joined A-Team Elite in its endeavor, as did the attending animal control officer, among others. But for some dogs, their living conditions had already caused health issues beyond recovery. For example, veterinarians had to euthanize a 14-year-old dog named Bear to prevent it suffering further, according to The Dodo.
For others there was still hope, but the longer they were left, the more serious the situation was becoming. BFDR wrote on Facebook in March 2018, “This will be a multi-week project as the location is remote. And the dogs are not going to willingly walk up to be leashed and removed.”
“These dogs are likely tick-infested, they have had zero vaccines, some will likely be pregnant,” BFDR continued. “And there will of course be dogs with significant health issues we don’t yet know about.” Furthermore, not all of those problems will be simply physical.
German shepherds newly-named Adam and Anabelle are two such dogs that have already been rescued from the farmhouse. Their traumatic living conditions have emotionally bonded them together so tightly, that A-Team Elite is looking to adopt them out together. Rescue group workers have adjudged them too traumatized to be separated.
Droogsman told The Dodo in March 2018, “Adam and Anabelle have to stay together. They lie against each other when they see each other. Anabelle cries when she does not see Adam. They are very skittish so we need an adopter who has patience.”
In addition, Anabelle was pregnant at the farmhouse. Tragically, her puppies died before their birth, which may explain her strong connection to Adam. He acts as Anabelle’s rock in times of turmoil. “They don’t want to leave each other’s side,” Droogmans said.
There is still hope for Anabelle and Adam yet, though – according to The Dodo, A-Team Elite has a professional trainer helping them. Meanwhile, BFDR has asked its Facebook supporters for help supplying the rescued dogs with medicine. Unfortunately, until its vets can move in, they have no idea exactly how much they’ll need.
BFDR’s Facebook post noted, “The dogs that were penned on property have already been removed. It’s now about trapping the rest. I would ask that everyone spare[sic] a thought for the woman, the dogs and those out there silently waiting for deliverance.”