15 malnourished dogs rescued from Winnipeg home have new families
Happy ending but dogs' situation is not isolated one, animal services says
All 15 dogs rescued from deplorable conditions in a Winnipeg house earlier in the year are now with new families.
"Fourteen of the dogs have been adopted and one is out on a doggy date, and has been out for a week, which means they're trying the dog out and they're probably going to adopt it," said Leland Gordon, chief operating officer with the city's animal services department.
The dogs were discovered Jan. 4 in a house on Home Street in Winnipeg's West End. Police officers were looking into an unrelated issue nearby when they noticed a strong smell coming from the house.
Five adult dogs and 10 puppies were found malnourished and in distress. They were apparently abandoned "in horrific conditions" without food, water or somewhere to use the bathroom, Gordon said.
"It was so awful in there that when our team and the police went in, they had to wear masks and respirators," he said.
Urine and feces had built up in the home and the dogs had started consuming parts of couches, beds and walls. The bodies of three dead puppies were found stowed in a plastic tote in the garage.
A 35-year-old woman faces multiple charges related to animal cruelty.
The rescued adult dogs received medical treatment and were placed in the care of animal services, who then went looking for new families. The pups were handled by the Humane Society and were quickly adopted, Gordon said.
Adult dogs tend to have to wait a little longer but the result in this case is a happy ending to a shocking story, he said.
Unfortunately, it's not an isolated one, he said.
"Sometimes people just need a little bit of education [on pet ownership], but sometimes people need to be reported," Gordon said.
Sadly, some owners need help beyond education, he added, noting mental illness is common in cases of neglect.
"We need to work together to help not only the animals but the people in our communities," Gordon said.
During a visit to the CBC newsroom, he brought along a gentle friend named Bruno, who came from a northern Manitoba community.
The one-year-old St. Bernard and mastiff mix had suffered from frostbite, which left the tips of his ears scarred and scabbed, and also has a deep scar around his neck.
"That scar around his neck is probably the result of being chained up all the time and the skin actually grew around the collar. So this dog is obviously the victim of neglect," Gordon said.
Bruno was saved through the animal services's Northern Outreach Initiative, which is a partnership with those communities where the dog population is often a problem and annual culls are held to reduce the numbers.
Despite the situation Bruno was in, he is the most laid-back pooch, Gordon said, noting many rescued dogs are that way because they are getting attention and care they've not experienced before.
Animals for adoption by the city can be found in a gallery on the animal service's website.
Gordon also applauded the many independent rescues around the province that "save a far larger amount" of dogs than the city can handle.
"If you don't find anything at animal services, please adopt from one of those other great shelters or rescues," he said.
To report any cases of neglect or cruelty, call the provincial animal care line at 204-945-8000 or toll free at 1-888-945-8001.