More than 250 dogs rescued from filthy conditions get treated for adoption after owners' tragedy

SHELBY, Ohio - More than 250 dogs rescued from filthy conditions are on the road to recovery.

The Humane Society and several other animal welfare groups have been at a Richland County property since Thursday. They will be there all weekend.

Jennifer Kulina-Lanese of the Humane Society said as many as two to four Chihuahuas were kept to a cage. Shar Peis were kept in separate indoor and outdoor kennels.

"I've been doing this for a long time and it never gets easier," she said.

Workers are removing and cleaning the dogs, one by one. They are cleaning them, checking them for fleas and infections and giving them shots. Kulina-Lanese said all the dogs have chronic infections.

"This is where it stops being stressful, where you want to pull your hair out, and you start wanting to cry tears of joy," Kulina-Lanese said.

Some had concerns that the elderly couple who owned the Shelby property were running a puppy mill, but a family friend denies that. Jim Jennings flew in from New Jersey to help out.

"There's a fine line and you become what we all call hoarders. And that's what we have here. I know people would like to make it a puppy mill, but they haven't sold dogs, they haven't bred to do that," Jennings said.

Jennings said that the elderly owners were once dog breeders who once won the Westminster Dog Show, but as they got older, their dogs multiplied and they became unable to keep up with the care demands -- yet still want to make sure the dogs were cared for.

"The worst case scenario that could possibly happen, with his wife in stage four cancer with hospice, is that he could have something happen to him, and he did. He had a heart attack on Saturday and died," Jennings said.

The good news is that it appears all the dogs are responding well to treatment and should be able to recover. They could all likely be up for adoption as dogs with special care requirements.

Kulina-Lanese said so many agencies were on hand, that the dogs were sent all over Ohio. Anyone interested in adopting the dogs should call their local animal shelter or APL and ask if they have any of the Shelby rescue dogs.

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