On February 1stof this year, I received a phone call from Toni Ligouri of Katy's Promise Rottweiler Rescue. She had heard on the news of a cruelty seizure in Coryell County, Texas where the Sheriff's Department took in more than 200 Rottweilers. This seizure also included 46 horses, 2 Bengal, 2 mountain lions, 18 domestic cats, a raccoon, a monkey, some birds, a monitor lizard, a deer and more for a total of 300 animals.All of these animals were being moved to the Houston SPCA.Toni called me because I am the Chairperson for the American Rottweiler Club Disaster Committee and she hoped I could get more information about this seizure.
After I got off the phone, I had to sit back and digest all of this.While our committee had worked with organizing the rescue of Rottweilers during Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Ike and the floods in Tennessee, we had never been called upon to work a rescue situation with so many Rottweilers at one time.I took a deep breath, looked up the phone number for the Houston SPCA and called them. I was directed to Janella Clay, who heads up fostering.I left her a message with my name and number, told her what group I was with and asked her how we could assist them.It wasn't long before I received a call back from her stating she had been trying to reach me.She wanted to arrange a meeting to talk about this rescue and asked if I could see the dogs in two days. I agreed.I then immediately contacted the American Rottweiler Club to alert the Board of this event.
Our meeting was for 11AM that Thursday, February 3rd.When I arrived at the Houston SPCA, I was ushered into a meeting room where Janella and several other Houston SPCA officials were present.We quickly got down to the matter at hand. Because of the vast number of Rottweilers, the SPCA brought them into the shelter in separate groups. All were housed in the shelter awaiting the Court's decision to see if all of the animals that were seized would be relinquished to the SPCA. This included all the horses, cats and other animals. When the SPCA asked me what my group could do, I reassured them that the ARC Disaster Committed would be able to move all the Rottweilers into foster homes and rescues when they were released by the court. When I said this, I felt every pair of eyes in that room staring at me and sizing me up.Then the Vice President said, 'That's great!That's what we were hoping to hear.' They then asked me if I wished to see all the dogs and I immediately said, 'Yes.'
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As we started walking out of the room to go see the dogs, I was worried about whether or not I could really hold up my end of the bargain. I was determined we could but knew I would need the help of rescue groups, transport teams, donations from the public and much, much more.
We started with the first room of dogs and I started going into shock. While I was told there were “200 Rottweilers,” seeing all of them brought the actual reality of the entire situation into full color.The firstroom contained about 40 kennels and each one held one to two Rottweilers. All were thin, looked anxious, and were eager for attention. We went to a second room where there were about 20 dogs and then to a third room that contained about 15 dogs.
As we left the third room,the Vice President turned brightly to me and said, “Now we are going to the big building!” We walked across the street to the warehouse and I will never forget what I saw there.There were 74 brand new runs, all filled with Rottweilers. We slowly walked down the first side of that very long row and then we walked slowly up the other side.I petted each Rottweiler and tried to speak to all of them. As we walked back to the main building, my mind wouldn't stop churning.I knew I had to help all of them.I knew I had to get each and every one of them out of there and into a forever home!
After the meeting, the ARC Disaster Committee started preparing for the rescue mission assuming the Judge would rule in favor of the SPCA.Carolyn Zembroldt set up a PayPal account for donations and began spreading the word. We got two yahoo email groups set up; one for volunteers and one for those who wanted to adopt. Toni Ligouri got the word out to all the rescue groups and the American Rottweiler Club sent out an email to all the members announcing what had occurred and explained our need for donations and volunteers.
During the three week wait to hear the Judge's ruling, 16 of the rescued female Rottweilers gave birth to several puppies, increasing the total number of Rottweilers dramatically.The SPCA gave us permission to put the females with puppies into foster homes with 501c3 Rescue groups, to allow these puppies to be hand raised by our excellent volunteers.
Based on the Judge's ruling, the Houston SPCA offered to make sure all dogs were vetted, vaccinated, spayed and neutered.
With all this in place, we waited anxiously for the Court's ruling!Three weeks later, on February 22nd, the Coryell County Judge gave custody of all 300 animals to the Houston SPCA.
What happened next was truly a miracle in the making. Hundreds of people stepped forward to volunteer. Rottweiler Rescues came forward pledging to take a certain number of the Rottweilers into foster care.People volunteered to transport and donations started coming in.Rottweiler lovers came from all parts of the country and all of them were determined to see these dogs get to safety and into permanent homes.
The SPCA started spaying and neutering the Rottweilers immediately and then the first group of transports began moving the dogs out of the shelter to bring them to Rescues spanning across the county.In the following six weeks, these dogs left by private vehicles, on Rescue Road Trips up to the North East, and on airline flights to California and Washington State.Transports came from all over, including Minnesota, Florida, California, Illinois, Ohio, Kansas City and New Jersey. They went directly to Rescue Groups, who in turn placed each dog into foster homes.
On April 6th, the last 4 Rottweilers left the Houston SPCA. As I stood by the rows of empty kennels, I felt complete elation knowing we had been able to deliver our promise to each of these dogs and to the Houston SPCA.It is a miracle that each of these Rottweilers has been given a second chance for a life with a loving and caring family.It is a miracle to experience such a happy ending for all of these Rottweilers.It is a miracle to see these dogs, who endured such hardship, be adaptable enough to so eagerly and readily accept the new life changes we've offered them with courage and strength! And it is a miracle to see an AKC Parent Breed Club come together with the SPCA, Rottweiler Rescue groups across the country, Rottweiler fanciers, medical professionals, and the community to help this wonderful breed.
And so, while Phase 1 of this enormous endeavor has been accomplished, please know our job is NOT done!!Phase 2 is just beginning and we still have a long way to go.Phase 2 is to make sure each of these dogs receives the additional medical care needed, proper food and nutrition and training so they can be prepared for placement into permanent, loving forever homes.
Many of the dogs rescued are in need of further, more extensive medical care.There were many dogs with severe cases of pneumonia, dogs that are heartworm positive, many that are suffering from malnutrition and other health related issues stemming from their horrid living conditions prior to the seizure.The Phase 2 goal is to get every one of these Rottweilers healthy and prepared for their new homes.
Donations are still desperately needed to ensure each of these dogs gets the additional medical care they need, proper food and basic training.Please continue to provide your support to this rescue mission by making a donation to:
http://arcdc.chipin.com/arc-disaster-fund-rottweiler-rescue (editor’s note, link no longer active)
And a big thank you to Brenda Warner, who edits my newsletter. She and her Rottweiler Rescue Group, True Hearts of Rottweiler Rescue, transported 12 dogs to the Illinois area last weekend. Thank you Brenda!
Please see the links below for related stories and videos:
Kennels full with the Texas 200
Every Rottweiler has gone home!!
Every Rottweiler was Grateful for their Second Chance!
From the Puppies to the Seniors, All were Saved! Thank You!
Moms and their Babies safe in Foster Care!