ATLANTA — The smell was overpowering. The sight was heartbreaking.
167 German Shepherds were living in tiny, filthy pens. Neighbors in Metter, Georgia began hearing and smelling them. Knowing something was wrong, they contacted the Candler County Sheriff’s Department.
On January 3rd, Atlanta Humane Society’s Animal Protection Unit loaded their vans with supplies and headed to the site. Rescuers evaluated the scene and medically prioritized the dogs in the worst shape.
Watch the video above to see the moment these dogs were rescued.
“There were some larger pens that had upwards of 30 animals in them. Then you got to the smaller ones where it’s no bigger than a VW van, and there’s four dogs, full-size German shepherds living in it, fighting over one bin of food, and there’s one dog house, and the mud is six inches deep,” recalls Amanda Harris, the Marketing Programs Manager at Atlanta Humane Society.
Some of the animals were starving to death; some were too weak to get up when rescuers arrived.
“A couple of them we did pull out that first day and go ahead and send them to a 24-hour overnight veterinarian so that we can make sure they got food that evening,” says Harris, who was on site for the rescue. According to the Candler County Sheriff’s Department, three of the dogs had to be humanely euthanized on site.
The next day, the remaining dogs were loaded into vans and taken back to Atlanta, where they were then distributed to several shelters. The owner of the property is facing animal cruelty charges, and the investigation is still ongoing. The Atlanta Humane Society says the owner also had another property with more than 100 more German Shepherds living in similar conditions. Another group ran the rescue operation for that site.
The dogs were treated for their various ailments, including being spayed and neutered. The final step before clearing individual dogs for adoption was socialization.
Watch the video above to meet one very special dog who blossomed once he became more comfortable around humans.
“We’re having our staff and volunteers just simply go in the kennels and sit with the dogs and show them that it’s okay and that it’s safe to relax around a person, that we’re not going to hurt them, that they are here, that they are safe and that they’re loved,” says Harris.
Several months after the rescue operation, Harris is happy to report that all of the dogs that they pulled from the Metter site have been adopted.