If you can do anything to help these adorable ratties, please respond to the address below.
If you want to adopt any of these babies, notify the Humane Society.
By Lynne Terry, The Oregonian
December 10, 2009, 8:50PMView full size
Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian
Nearly 100 rat terriers were taken away from an overwhelmed breeder in Tillamook. These are 7-week-old puppies at the Oregon Humane Society.
The Oregon Humane Society snapped into battle mode. Kennels were cleaned. Vaccines were lined up. Volunteers were called in, and staff stood ready with collars, leashes and paperwork in perhaps the agency's biggest influx of dogs in its 141-year-history.
This week, the organization in Northeast Portland took in about 185 dogs in two rescue operations. Big dogs, small dogs, puppies and 10-year-old dogs, friendly and frightened dogs arrived in vans stacked with carrying crates. They were whisked inside, weighed, given shots and examined for obvious medical problems. Each was named, given a collar and trotted to clean kennels with food and water awaiting.
These dogs, which had been chained up, crammed into cages and left in the bitter cold, have never had it so good.
But the intake of so many animals in such a short period has taken a toll on the humane society.
"There's a lot of exhausted people here today," Sharon Harmon, the nonprofit's executive director, said Thursday.
Half of the humane society's canine capacity is now filled with dogs from the two rescues. Nearly 100 rat terriers came from an overwhelmed breeder in Tillamook, who was living in a trailer while dogs overran her barn and house, the kitchen covered in feces.
"She didn't have the time, resources or money to care for these rat terriers," said David Lytle, spokesman for the humane society.
The rest of the dogs came from a property about 20 miles south of Burns in Harney County. A couple, now facing allegations of animal neglect, kept the dogs in subfreezing temperatures outside, some of them penned up and others tied to posts and farm equipment. Mostly border collie, Australian shepherd and Shiba Inu mixes, they were fed cattle carcasses that the couple obtained from a meat processing plant.
Fortunately, most of the dogs from the two rescues are in good health.
On Thursday, smock-clad vets, veterinary technicians and veterinary students from Oregon State University scrambled in three surgical suites, spaying and neutering rat terriers.
"It's been all hands on deck," said Kris Otteman, medical staff director. "We did more surgeries yesterday than we've ever done."
The total count: 88 operations, with dozens more under way Thursday.
At least 50 of the rat terriers will be ready for adoption this morning when the shelter opens at 10 a.m.
With the rat terriers spayed and neutered, the staff will work through the dogs from Harney County, which could go up for adoption Tuesday.
The sooner they find homes, the better, Lytle said.
"There's a strain and stress if the animals are not adopted," he said. "There's a stress on the animal, and there's a stress on the budget."
Each dog costs the shelter $22 a day. That might not sound like much, but the bill quickly adds up. In March, the humane society rescued 126 dogs from a breeder in Burns. Caring for them cost about $140,000, and the agency could spend $200,000 on the rescues this week.
Lytle hopes the animals will be adopted quickly. Some, including a 3-year-old yellow Lab named Tonka and a 7-year-old German shepherd mix, Wolverine, have immediate appeal. The two dogs, who came from Harney County, wagged madly at visitors, playfully jostling for attention.
But other dogs, which crouched fearfully in their kennels, might have more trouble finding homes.
Besides ensuring that the dogs are in good health, each one is evaluated according to its temperament. A "green" rating means the dog is suitable for the whole family. "Yellow" indicates a dog that would thrive best with an adult or older children.
The agency tries to match each dog with the right owner.
The Harney County dogs are mid-sized and range from a few months old to about 10 years. Many appear to have easygoing personalities.
The rat terriers vary in age as well and include puppies that were born this week. Although short-haired small dogs, weighing 10 to 15 pounds, they burst with big personalities.
"Terriers are not poodles," said Sandra Farnsworth, customer care manager. "They're aloof, independent and dominant. The owner needs to understand the terrier breed."
In a good home, she says, they will turn into "snuggle bunnies" that will love your lap and burrow under your covers.
They will keep your property rodent-free as well.
Both the rat terriers and the Harney County dogs need to be housebroken and trained, and owners have to pay an adoption fee of $85 to $300 depending on the dog.
Prospective owners started showing up Thursday morning along with donors answering an appeal for cash and supplies.
Aram Cartozian, a 60-year-old sound engineer and animal lover in Portland, brought in five bags of dog food.
"I love animals," Cartozian said. "They rely on us to take care of them, and when people treat them like that and they're rescued, I want to reach out and help."
-- Lynne Terry
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