An extraordinary animal hoarding case made the headlines in Northern California a couple of months ago. Hundreds of animals, including dogs, cats, alpacas, horses, and birds were all kept in deplorable conditions for years. The dogs were caged in stacks of crates in an abandoned house. After a multi-year legal process, animal control authorities were able to remove the animals from the property.
More than 150 dogs were taken to local shelters around Sacramento, CA. Remarkably, dozens of the dogs were Boston Terriers. The Sacramento ASPCA was so full from the extra animals that they reached out to Bay Area dog rescueorganizations for help.
Capacity at the shelters wasn’t the only problem. The dogs from the hoarding case would need emotional, behavioral, and medical rehabilitation before they could be adopted. This is where Wonder Dog Rescue (WDR) entered the scene. The shelter contacted WDR and asked if we could take 13 of the Bostons. Of course, we said “Yes!” We knew our dedicated network of foster families, decades of experience with rehabilitation, and a history rooted in saving neglected Boston Terriers, was ideal for these pups.
And so, in the middle of June, a team of WDR volunteers (including myself) drove out to Sacramento to pick up 13 Boston Terriers who were in need of some serious TLC.
We didn’t know much at all about the dogs except that they had been primarily housed in crates for most of their lives. We weren’t sure how fearful or emotionally shut down they might be. Our anticipation built up as we waited outside for the shelter staff to bring the dogs out to us.
And then the dogs started coming out. A parade of shelter staff carried out one Boston Terrier after another. The dogs looked apprehensive, but curious. A good sign. Then the staff began handing them over to us and that’s when the non-stop smiling began. The dogs were nervous, but friendly and sweet as can be. They clung to us, and jumped on us, and searched our faces for reassurance. We petted them and talked to them while we got them settled in their crates. It was overwhelming to see all of those curious little faces peering out at us.
We got medical records for each of them, said our goodbyes to the ASPCA staff and closed the van doors. It was time to get rolling to the next, and much happier chapter, of these dogs’ lives.
Two hours later we pulled up at the WDR offices in San Francisco, where the dogs would meet their foster families. We were eager to bring them inside. Some of the dogs were happy to get out of their crates, but most were tentative. They stared at the cars whizzing by, trembled when trucks made noise, and retreated into their crates. We were reminded that these dogs hadn’t been exposed to much of anything in their previous home. They had likely never seen a truck, or traffic, or crowds of people.
With patience and words of encouragement, we finally got them into the office. And that’s when the fun began! Imagine 13 excited Boston Terriers meeting a bunch of excited people and you get the picture. The dogs were given their WDR tags and sent home with their new foster families.
The foster families have their work cut out for them. In addition to getting some much needed R&R, these dogs need help with potty training, learning how to walk on a leash, and adjusting to life in a house with people. Additionally, almost all of the dogs need extensive dental work. Even the younger ones have rotting teeth.Sadly, all of the dogs have bald patches on their hind legs and behinds, the result of years spent sitting on nothing but the plastic bottom of a crate.
The beauty of fostering is that the foster families can work with dogs one on one and really get to know them. We learn their quirks, fears, and what makes them happy. All of these details will help WDR match each dog with the perfect forever home. We look forward to watching these dogs blossom!