PHOENIX — Almost three dozen dogs have a new chance at life, thanks to two back-to-back rescues that took place in Apache County by the Animal Welfare League of Arizona.
"They were two of the hardest rural rescue cases we've had, and they happened on the same day," said Michael Morefield, Director of Marketing and Communications for Animal Welfare League Arizona.
He described how seasoned rescue workers were overwhelmed by the heat, exhaustion, and their own emotions during the rescue efforts that lasted for hours, on two rural properties in Apache County.
The first one was just outside of the community of Concho, and it involved a severe case of animal hoarding. 24 dogs were rescued from that property.
"The smell was overwhelming. It was very hot. There was trash and feces and dog hair covering the floors, and dogs skittering among the trash. One dog was hiding in the bookcase because it was the only clean place that it could go to," described Morefield.
The second rescue took place outside the town of St. Johns, and it involved ten dogs found abandoned on a rural property.
"The new owner of the property stated that he would shoot any dog that was left on the property. Our partner said I need help right now," said Morefield.
Thanks to partnerships with 32 rural rescues and the Arizona Border Collie Rescue based out of the Valley, Animal Welfare League Arizona has been able to get these dogs out of what they described as a "really bad situation". Morefield said all the dogs will need medical attention, behavioral help, and some will just need a lot of time to heal from the psychological stress and trauma caused by neglect and abandonment.
"Some of these dogs were just craving human attention," said Morefield.
"They are not all ready for the world yet," he added.
Law enforcement was not involved in any of the rescue efforts, according to Morefield. Just like the dogs, he said the man accused of hoarding will also need a lot of help.
"Hoarding is a very difficult situation--it's not just a situation that happens overnight it builds and it builds-- there's a very large mental health aspect to this,"