It was a blisteringly hot summer day in New York City when a group of cops were sent to investigate a suspicious vehicle. But this was not a case of stolen drugs or money. No, as soon as the officers pried open the car’s door, they were hit by an overwhelming stench and the heart breaking discovery of 22 dogs crowded into a tiny space.
The dogs’ desperate situation was first brought to the police’s attention by Adore-a-Bullie Paws and Claws. The New York-based charity organizes foster care for dogs that would otherwise live in shelters.
It also tries to help save dogs from difficult situations, such as this one. So in early August 2016 New Yorkers alerted the rescue team to a woman driving around the Bronx with a car full of dogs. Naturally, the team reached out to the lady and offered to provide her dogs veterinary care and food, but the woman declined.
Then, just a week later, the owner realized that she did indeed need help – just not the kind that Adore-a-Bullie had suggested. In fact, the lady asked specifically for help with only one of her dogs: a puppy that had stopped eating for three days.
However, after taking the sick puppy, which was suffering from rectal prolapse, Adore-a-Bullie grew increasingly concerned about the lady’s other pets. As a result, the charity did not want to return the dog to its owner and instead approached the authorities.
That’s when the cops went to investigate the car and discovered a truly concerning scene. There, in the woman’s Mercedes-Benz SUV, were 22 dogs, mostly puppies, living in their own squalor.
According to News 12 The Bronx, the car and the dogs all smelled of excrement and urine. Sadly, it seemed that the woman had been hoarding the dogs in her car for a long time.
After living in such conditions, then, the poor canines were suffering from a variety of health problems. Fortunately, the officers’ intervention have undoubtedly given the dogs, and their owner, a second chance at a better future.
After all, it became clear that the dogs’ owner, a 54-year-old veteran, was homeless and her car was also her only lodging. But more than this, the owner’s hoarding of the dogs indicated that she may be suffering from mental illness. So after officials rescued the dogs from the woman’s car, they took the owner herself to a hospital.
But in order to give all the dogs proper treatment, the authorities had to divvy them between two local rescue centers. While some went to Adore-a-Bullie, others were sent to Bobbi and the Strays, an animal rescue and adoption organization also based in New York.
Astonishingly, all but one of the dogs found were so young that it seemed plausible that they had never experienced much of life outside of the vehicle. Plus, the likelihood was high that the puppies would have started breeding among themselves if the authorities hadn’t have intervened when they did.
“If we hadn’t stepped in, who knows how many more puppies would have been born within the next few months,” said Kim Stein, co-founder of Adore-a-Bullie. “Our focus is saving these animals,” she added.
The father-figure, if not the actual father, to the pups was an adolescent German Shepherd found in a cage in the back of the car. Named Bruno, the gentle animal was, like most of the other dogs, underweight and suffering from malnutrition.
Whether or not Bruno was indeed the father, he at least earned himself the nickname “Big Papa” from the rescue teams. That’s because in every respect, the dog acted like an over-concerned parent.
“He’s the most incredible part about the story,” Stein said. “He cried for every single puppy they took out of the car.” She also revealed that the puppies seemed happy to see him when they were reunited at the police station before going their separate ways to the two shelters.
So, once at their shelters, all of the dogs were bathed, vaccinated and spayed or neutered. It was then that staff could begin to socialize the animals and get them used to human contact.
Indeed, some of the dogs were sent to foster parents to prepare them for their forever homes. And, by all accounts, it was this kind of love and care that helped the puppies to begin a swift recovery.
“It’s amazing how quickly they rebound when they realize they’re safe,” Stein told the New York Post. “They are over that original timidness. They’re definitely loved in their foster homes.”
“The dogs are doing very well,” added Roberta Giordano, from Bobbi and the Strays. “They’re not aggressive and are very attached to one another.”
All 22 dogs are now available for adoption and looking for a loving home. And Adore-a-Bullie is confident that Bruno and his puppies won’t be on the adoption list for long. What’s more, they will exemplify how every dog, no matter its past, can have its day.