Collectively, we’ve got decades of experience in rescue at Pets Alive – we’re pretty thick skinned. It takes a lot to rattle us. We’ve unfortunately dealt with debilitating neglect and circumstances horrible beyond measure for companion animals. We’d thought we’d seen it all… and then we saw this hole.
It started with a phone call from a Deputy Sheriff here in Orange County, NY on Monday night. He’d been tasked with serving eviction papers to a tenant in a rural area. These papers were the final result of a three-year legal battle in which the tenant paid no rent. Finally, the landlord had won.
Upon arrival, the Sheriff immediately noted that there were dozens of sick cats and kittens all over the extensive property. Further inspection revealed two large, white dogs. Old and frightened, they hunkered down in dirty, wet kennels upon his approach. The stench in the house was unbearable, and piles of garbage filled a nearby garage. A third dog, deceased, was nearby. The dog was reduced to bones and fur, laying in the grass with no proper burial. The roof was collapsed and wet. The walls and floor were covered in urine and feces. Cats wove in and out of the mess, hungry and sick, crying for solace. And nearby was the hole.
The Sheriff served his papers and called the local animal control officer. He was told that it was “not her problem” and that even if she DID go to the home, all of the animals would be euthanized. This animal control officer did not care about these animals. The Sheriff was disgusted. He called a friend who is an animal lover to ask for advice, and that friend told him to call Pets Alive. That man had adopted his dog from us several years prior and remembered our dedication and our beautiful sanctuary. He knew that the best place for the animals would be with us. He knew they would be cared for, rehabilitated, and kept safe while new homes were found.
We got the Sheriff’s call around 4 pm and knew we had to respond immediately. By 5:30, three Pets Alive staff members and a member of our TNR team were on site at the house. They documented the filthy living conditions and spent hours searching for the cats in the ruined house. They pulled kittens out of cabinets and piles of trash. Our hearts broke as the kittens wheezed and coughed, trying to breathe despite their terrible upper respiratory infections. Some kittens were found laying in standing water, trapped in a cage and weak from fleas.
A good samaritan who rents land next door from the same landlord came by and filled us in on the hole. The hole had been dug for the dogs. Since the tenants were being evicted, the plan was for the dogs to be shot in the morning. The hole was meant to be a grave. Had we not responded, those dogs would have been lying in that very hole this morning. There are times when even we are overwhelmed by the cruelty that humans are capable of , and this news shook us to our very foundation. There’s a reason we do this work, and we had just been reminded. By 1 am, 26 cats and both dogs were safe and sound at the sanctuary. This morning, we trapped another 16 cats, bringing the current total rescued to 42. Currently, our team is still onsite trapping.
As we work to get the animals safe, we will need your help. 42 cats and 2 elderly dogs will certainly come with cost. 3 cats have ruptured eyes and will need them removed. There are many cats with rotten teeth which will require extensive dentistry. Other cats have damaged paw pads from walking in the urine. All of the animals will need to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped in preparation for their new homes.
Pets Alive exists because of these situations exactly. We exist to save the lives of those who have no other option. Please consider making a gift to Pets Alive to help us care for these animals. You can make your gift reoccurring by checking the monthly sponsorship box. We will apply your donation directly to animal care.
Thank you for helping us save these lives. They all deserve a fresh start.