Working for an animal rescue team can often be an emotionally straining job. After all, seeing the levels of neglect that some humans are able to inflict on our fellow creatures can weigh heavy on the soul. But some days it pays off in a big way.
One lauded animal rescue organization is known as the Animal Rescue Corps (ARC). Though headquartered in Washington, the organization has dedicated field teams all over the country and decades of animal protection experience among them.
The ARC is not only a rescue organization, but it also provides a number of community services. Of course, it rescues animals that have been abused or fallen victim to natural disasters, but the organization further works to create public awareness about animal suffering, offers assessments for animals shelters and training to professionals and volunteers.
The animal protection organization has, inevitably, seen many horrific cases of abuse over the years, but even so this day in August 2016 was one to remember for all the wrong reasons. It began when one of its field teams was called to an incident on a mountain enclave in Savannah, Tennessee.
So, after a tip-off first alerted the Hardin County Sheriff’s Department to an alleged case of animal cruelty, the sheriff there issued an arrest warrant and called both the Hardin County Animal Control and the ARC. Within 48 hours, the ARC team was on the scene, where the volunteers found dozens of dogs, six cats, eight chickens and two horses all seemingly living in horrifying conditions.
The ARC claimed that it was clear that the animals had been denied the basic essentials. While some of the animals were trapped in dirty outdoor pens, it reported, others ran free around the property – which had a fair share of rusting cars, garbage piles and even venomous copperhead snakes.
As though things couldn’t have gotten any worse, the team reported finding the remains of four animals in makeshift graves. On top of it all, the property owner had allegedly been working both sides of the system: supposedly rescuing as well as selling the animals.
Scotlund Haisley, president of the ARC, told the The Dodo, “[The owner] was actually posing as a rescue group and a Chihuahua breeder. She has two different websites that are not connected. She is selling dogs and she’s supposedly rescuing dogs.”
Not surprisingly, the property owner is now facing animal cruelty charges, according to The Dodo, and Haisley has no sympathy. “The only category I am putting her in is an animal abuser,” he said.
“Animals have been dying on this property for years. We have an excavation team working in extreme heat here trying to recover any remains that may be useful to law enforcement’s case. But for the survivors, this will be their last day in this hell. We have not found a single healthy animal on this property,” Haisley added in a post on the ARC Facebook page.
With their day from hell far from over, the ARC team, amazingly, later responded to a call out in Tracy City, Tennessee. Police there had discovered what Haisley described as a “house of horror” when they attended to a car accident near the property.
Having just finished transporting the Savannah animals to a shelter, the Tennessee field team dashed due east. In fact, they were on the scene in Tracy City within three hours, with an army of volunteers, equipment and supplies.
What the team said they discovered there was beyond belief. To start with, they claimed, they found nine starving dogs and 12 cats locked in pens, which were also stuffed with feces and dead rats. Trash littered the land, and the house was swarming with cockroaches.
Sadly, the dogs were found to be suffering from a number of illnesses, including mange, conjunctivitis and tumors. They were also underweight, having apparently been denied access to food, water and veterinary care.
Shockingly, Haisley said even the nails on the the animals were so overgrown that “they were sinking back into their paw pads, several inches long.” He added, “Without any exaggeration, in each structure the dogs were in, their floor was at least 12 inches high in feces.”
“What is clear to me was this place was operated by someone with significant mental health issues to the point of insanity,” he added. “The scene of suffering was absolutely surreal.” As with the Savannah property owner, the Tracy City homeowner is now facing animal cruelty charges, according to The Dodo.
Ultimately, with help from the Tracy City Police Department, the ARC transported 21 animals from the property to an emergency shelter. There, the animals will be cared for until longer-term shelters are available.
Thankfully, all of the animals rescued that day are now obtaining the care and attention they so desperately needed. It’s a busy task, though, as vets need to check over each of the more than 60 animals rescued and provide all of them with essential vaccinations and medical treatments.
Amazingly, the dedicated ARC team was awake for almost 24 hours, as the volunteers battled to save all of the creatures they had found on that eventful day. “Even as exhaustion set in, no one complained or thought of stopping, because ARC is made up of a team of extraordinary individuals,” Hainsley said.
“Our hearts were made heavy with the unimaginable suffering we witnessed on these two cases but now, 68 precious souls are safe in ARC’s arms of compassion,” he added. Indeed, thanks to the selfless work of the ARC volunteers, these animals and many more will hopefully never have to live in fear again.