They've lived in deplorable conditions their whole lives. But on Wednesday, more than 100 dogs were rescued from a breeding operation in Sand Springs, and it was actually the operators that called deputies on themselves.
Tulsa County deputies said an elderly couple called for help, saying they were overwhelmed by the number of dogs they'd accumulated and could no longer care for the animals. Now, they're getting the most love and attention they've ever had. They're getting cleaned up for the first time in their lives and are seeing medical attention they've so desperately needed.
"A lot of them are super matted," said Humane Society of Tulsa Manager, Evan Fadem. "It's gotta feel pretty good to get a bath."
Humane Society of Tulsa President, Gina Gardner said, "We've got a lot of eye issues, we have a lot of dental issues; the dental disease is widespread, missing teeth. We've got skin issues, hair loss."
The dogs are all small breeds, mainly Poodles, Yorkies, Chihuahuas and Malteses; and then crossbreeds of those. Veterinarian Dan Walker said the owners were trying to breed the dogs down to a very small teacup size, between two and three pounds.
"There's a lot of breeds that you're now seeing miniature versions of with major genetic health problems," Walker said.
Walker said the majority of the rescued dogs are older, between 7 and 15 years old. He said a few of the animals have terminal illnesses and will have to be put down.
Gardner said, "It's always sad, it's heartbreaking to see a hundred animals in an environment like that. Most of them in their senior years, they don't even have a name."
Deputies said the dogs were never actually in cages. Instead, they had free run of a house, but the owners didn't live there, they just went by at night to feed them.
"The Tulsa County Sheriff's Department said the feces was three to four inches deep in this house, so it was pretty horrific," Walker said.
Because the owners voluntarily gave up the dogs, deputies said it's unlikely any criminal charges will be filed, though deputies said they will keep a watchful eye on the owners to make sure they don't start the operation again.
Sergeant Travis Jones with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, said, "There was really nothing criminal, besides the amount of animals that they had. And when people are willing to remedy the problem, and ask for help, and find the dogs other homes, and suitable conditions and any treatment they may need, that's better than filing any type of criminal citations."
Caring for these animals costs the Humane Society a lot of money. So they'll be in need of donations. To help you can call 918-978-7387.
The Humane Society is already looking for forever homes and foster homes for the healthy dogs and about 20 puppies. If you're interested, you can find information on their Facebook page and website. They'll also have many of the dogs at the Home and Garden Show this weekend for anyone who's out that way.