April 12, 2018

UPDATE: 100+ Animals Rescued from Failed Sanctuary Arrive at ASPCA Temporary Shelter

When ASPCA responders arrived at the scene of the Dreampower Ranch in Clayton, New Mexico, at the request of the New Mexico District Attorney and Union County Sheriff’s Office, we were heartbroken by what we saw at this self-described “sanctuary”. More than 100 dogs and cats were being kept in conditions that no animal should have to endure.

Dogs were left outside—some running loose, some in ramshackle kennels—which offered little protection from the elements. Many had no access to clean water. Some dogs, confined to their small enclosures, looked as though they were struggling to stand up and walk.

Inside the house, where cats were kept, urine and feces covered the floor, and dead mice were even found inside. Many of the cats and dogs appeared to be suffering from medical issues and neglect.

Yet the lives of these animals were about to change, thanks to the help of people like you. Once on the ground, our responders set to work to address urgent needs, and began removing the animals to get them to safety. 

Ehren Melius, Medical Operations Director of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team, recalls the gratitude shown by a senior dog at the scene, who would later become known as Jebediah: 

“Every operation I deploy on, there’s always at least one animal who I make a connection with—an animal who speaks to me on a deeper level and brings home exactly why we’re there. On this most recent seizure in New Mexico, it was a dog we named ‘Jebediah,’ an older, 80-pound, red Chow-mix. After untying the rope and unclasping the rusted chains that held the door to his enclosure shut, I stepped into his dilapidated kennel. Jebediah was standing at the back of his enclosure, and I immediately noticed that something was off about this dog. One look at his eyes told me that Jebediah was either completely blind or at the very least had severely limited vision. He stood there stoically trying to ascertain who I was and what was going on. When I called over to him he stumbled forward and immediately leaned his head against my leg. He let out this long sigh of contentment. It was like he knew why I was there and that his struggles were finally at an end. Jebediah stayed glued to me for the rest of the removal process, visibly (and vocally!) getting upset whenever contact was broken. 

“I was reunited with Jebediah a few days later when he arrived at our temporary shelter. As soon as I called out to him, his tail started thumping wildly. Seeing him recognize my voice, head turning this way and that, searching for me, was one of the most powerful moments I’ve experience while working with this team. That moment that this poor, blind, neglected dog and I shared is the reason I do what I do.”

Jebediah and the other animals rescued have arrived at our temporary shelter. Here they're receiving food, medical care and the attention and enrichment they've been denied. Now the slow road to recovery begins. Some animals show signs of ear and eye problems, like Jebediah. Others are being treated for sores, masses, fur mats and other injuries that seem to be causing pain.  While some animals are coming out of their shells, others remain shy and fearful, afraid to approach, even for treats. We can only imagine what some of them have been through.

But whatever the case, we are committed to giving each animal the care, treatment and rehabilitation they need, so they can heal both physically and emotionally. At the same time, we are working to assist prosecutors in this case to serve justice for these animals.

Operations like these—from animal rescue and treatment to assisting law enforcement with collecting evidence and building a case—take tremendous resources, and there's still time to make a difference for animals like these who desperately need our help. If you haven't already, please give today. Thank you for helping animals on their way to a better life.