This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Forty-seven dogs are receiving emergency medical care after they were rescued from the home of an animal hoarder in Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Friday.
Robin Ratz, who works with animal rescue services Northern Reach and Adopt a Mutt, told Tbnewswatch.com that the conditions in the house were the worst she’s ever seen and that the dogs were in very small, confined areas. “The house was in shambles. The urine smell was so strong that, even with masks, it penetrated our nostrils,” she said in an interview Monday. “Probably their little spirits have been broken.”
Sixteen of the dogs who required the most urgent attention are in the care of the Toronto Humane Society (THS).
“All of their coats were heavily soaked in their own urine and feces,” said Hannah Sotropa, a spokesperson for the THS, in an interview with VICE. “Two came in that needed IVs as well as antibiotics. The more severe ones were very emaciated and dehydrated. Every single one had dental disease and decreased muscle mass known as muscle atrophy and it’s going to require ongoing physical rehabilitation so they can walk normally.”
All the dogs are anemic and have parasites. Most of the animals have eye problems and four or five of them will need to have both eyes surgically removed.
One of the rescued animals had fur that was so matted that after he was groomed his weight went from 6.9 pounds to 5.9 pounds.
Stropa says that based on the condition they were in, the dogs were likely kept in those conditions for several years by their owner, who is deceased. Typically, in cases of animal hoarding, people can be and are prosecuted but there is a 99 percent rate of recurrence.
Animal hoarding was previously grouped as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), but in 2013 it was categorized as its own separate mental disorder. According to Stropa, the response to animal hoarding is very judgmental but the people who do it usually don’t realize that their neglect causes suffering.
It will be months before these dogs are ready for adoption.
“These dogs are quite timid—nervous at first because there’s lots of big changes happening for them. A desired environment would be a quiet home with a good understanding of older dogs and dogs that have come from a circumstance like this, where someone is very consistently able to tend to their needs would be wonderful,” said Stropa.
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This article originally appeared on VICE CA.