On Friday night, a total of 276 dogs were removed from a home in Howell, New Jersey due to an extreme case of animal hoarding.
Ross Licitra, chief law enforcement officer for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the Asbury Park Press, “This is actually the worst hoarding case that we’ve ever experienced ever here in the history of Monmouth County.”
While most dogs were found to be in fair condition, there were also multiple dogs giving birth—luckily, no dogs were found dead.
The Hendricks started out with only eight dogs, but the number kept rising over the course of the last three years as the dogs continued to reproduce. Officials were originally called out for a loose dog, but then discovered what was really happening.
When Asbury Park Press asked if the couple would like to tell their story, Mr. Hendricks responded, “Not much to tell at this point in time. I’m exhausted, I can’t even think.”
Over six agencies worked together for more than 12 hours to rescue these pups, but supplies only stretched to 80 of the 276 on the property. Hazmat teams came in and out with dogs, many of which were Pugs, Chihuahuas, and Yorkshire Terriers.
Feces and urine covered floors inside the house, and the walls contained several holes. Crews used thermal imaging units to find dogs that had made their way inside the walls, and some were treated with oxygen due to the air quality.
Three days later, these dogs are well on their way to recovery, and are thriving with a little extra TLC. MCSPCA’s Ross Licitra stated:
Right now, the SPCA is just packed with volunteers, and we are just now getting through the final batch of dogs, going through medical exams and taking care of every little issue. All of them are doing well, but so many of them are in shock. This is the first time out of that house in their lives, but they are adjusting nicely.
The numbers have grown since at least two of the dogs (who are now at St. Huberts in Madison) have given birth to puppies, and the MCSPCA estimates that at least 20 other dogs are pregnant.
No charges have been filed yet, and the couple has been extremely cooperative with officials. Still, Licitra wants some sort of punishment for the couple, though he doesn’t want to see them in jail. Other consequences could include a fine, some kind of probation, or a limit on how many animals they can own, but the best treatment may be psychological.
After all, the ASPCA defines animal hoarding as:
A complex and intricate issue with far-reaching effects that encompass mental health, animal welfare and public safety concerns. The individual is in denial of the inability to provide this minimum care and the impact of that failure on the animals, the household and human occupants of the dwelling.
Most of these dogs will not be ready for adoption for at least two weeks, but all of the adoption information is located on the Monmouth County SPCA website. This group is also accepting donations so they can continue to help more dogs just like these.
Featured Image & H/T: Asbury Park Press