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Shelter gets dozens of hoarded dogs, offering free adoptions

Hill Country Humane Society

The Hill Country Humane Society removed 49 dogs from a home in Bertram on Sept. 18. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

The Hill Country Humane Society is offering free adoptions through Sunday, Oct. 1, after taking in more than 70 dogs since Sept. 18. Many of the canines came from two hoarding situations, while another group was picked up after the death of their owner. 

One of the three cases involved 49 dogs found inside a Bertram home.

“All of (the dogs) are scared to death,” said Paighton Coorley, executive director of Hill Country Humane Society, 9150 RR 1431 in Buchanan Dam. “You can tell they have probably never met anyone other than the owner in their life. They were extremely emaciated, some were pregnant, some were nursing. It was a whole big mess.”

The house was riddled with animal feces and difficult for Coorley and other rescue officials to stomach.

“It was really bad,” she said. “It was one of the worst ones I’ve seen.”

Coorley said she was grateful for the help the shelter received from Living Grace Canine Ranch and its founder, Rhonda Minardi. The Bertram-area rescue is a Humane Society partner.

“Our partnership with them is invaluable,” Coorley said. “Rhonda was the first person I called. She came to the scene with me, too. She offered to take 19 of them because we had absolutely nowhere to go with them. That was really awesome of her.”

Many of the dogs from the three cases lack basic socialization skills.

“A lot of them are a bit ‘spicy,’ I guess you could say,” Coorley said. “If you pick them up, they get a bit nippy.”

The recent influx has further stressed the Buchanan Dam shelter, which has struggled with the high number of animals in its facility all summer long.

“We’re already so full,” Coorley said. “It’s really got our hands full.”

To make room, HCHS officials have created makeshift living quarters for the animals in office spaces and other rooms at the facility, including housing about 20 Chihuahuas in its old laboratory room.

“We have beds and blankets everywhere, which they’re enjoying,” Coorley said. “We’re thankful (they’re) smaller-breed dogs because we would’ve had nowhere to go with bigs. It makes it a little bit easier to make temporary makeshift kennels.”

Responses from dog-loving residents have been encouraging.

“We have a lot of interest from the public in these guys since they’re so little,” Coorley said. “We’re excited that we can move them quickly.”

Volunteers are needed to ensure each pup learns proper home etiquette.

“These guys are definitely under-socialized,” Coorley said. “We’d really appreciate some volunteers coming up to just spend time with them.”

Financial assistance is also appreciated.

“With this many dogs, it’s expensive to care for them,” she said. “Vaccinations and basic treatment alone is going to be thousands of dollars.”

Visit the Hill Country Humane Society website to sign up to volunteer or donate.