Closing his cage sends Hoss into a barking fit.
The 4-year-old Rottweiler mix paces in his kennel, and his woof sounds increasingly more anxious every second he’s locked up. He is a little aggressive about his food and growls a bit, but handlers say he’s getting better with time.
Hoss was one of four dogs the Huron County Humane Society rescued late last month from the home of Donna Dennis, 41, of New London. Humane Society investigators said they found a room full of dead birds, three dead cats and packs of underfed dogs, hamsters and rabbits.
“We didn’t have time to count all the dead animals ... but there were numerous dead birds — dozens, maybe hundreds,” said Nicole Boudinot, animal caretaker and investigator for the Humane Society. “There were mice running all over the floor. It was gross.”
Hoss is a big dog — 69 pounds — even though he acts as a lapdog might. Boudinot said he should weigh 90-100 pounds.
Insufficient access to food and water is thought to be the reason for his size; judging by his droppings, his diet consisted largely of grass and hay, caretakers said.
When Hoss came into the Humane Society’s care, his skin was flaky and he his gums and inner ears were discolored. His fur was matted, and he has callouses on his rear end and legs from not having a soft place to lay, Boudinot said. His tail is in such bad shape it may need to be amputated.
But Hoss was in better shape than Fritz, a yellow Labrador retriever who had to be euthanized because his teeth had rotted, his eyesight and hearing were failing, and he may have had congestive heart failure. The other two dogs taken from Dennis’ possession were also malnourished.
The conditions at the Dennis home on the 1000 block of Ohio 60 were stomach-churning, said Boudinot, who was one of several investigators assigned to the case. Investigators found about 42 dogs on the property, but only the four most neglected ones were taken immediately into the care of the shelter. Dennis faces four charges of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor crime.
The Humane Society is trying to rescue all of the animals from Dennis’ property, which will put a tremendous strain on the shelter’s resources. The shelter has 12 kennels and is already operating over capacity, housing 25 dogs. It is a “no-kill” shelter, meaning that, except on veterinarians’ advice, no animals are euthanized.
Some of the dogs will be kept in the garage; others will need foster homes. Some will need medical treatment. They all will need attention and care.
Adopting out the rescued animals will take some time. The process, while fairly simple, is designed to find permanent, suitable homes for them. A prospective owner signs an adoption application and then must wait three days before taking the animal home.
If there are no second thoughts, the person signs an adoption contract and pays a fee of about $75. The Humane Society also offers home visits, which allow potential owners to take an animal home on a temporary basis, for three to seven days, to see how things work out.
Even people who are unable to accept an animal into their home can help by donating a blanket, supplies, or their time or money, said Ken Stewart, operations manager for the Humane Society.
Animal shelter workers are confident a good many of the animals will find loving homes with the public’s help.
Reached at her home, Dennis refused to comment. At least a half dozen dogs on leashes were howling outside her residence Wednesday.
How to Contribute
The Huron County Humane Society
246 Woodlawn Avenue, Norwalk, OH 44857
Supplies needed include bleach, dish soap, cat litter, paper towels, laundry soap, blankets. Monetary donations are also needed.
For information, call 419-663-7158