CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Animal Protective League is looking to adopt out hundreds of animals, after four back-to-back hoarding cases brought an additional 179 animals to the shelter.
The animals in these cases were all living in horrific conditions and needed to be removed from where they were living, according to the APL.
One of the cases involved 84 Chihuahuas and two larger, mixed-breed dogs living in one home. Sharon Harvey, president and CEO of the APL, said the animals were rescued in the nick of time.
“I think, had they been left in that environment any longer, those health issues would have continued to increase,” Harvey said. “They were emaciated. Some of them were thin, dehydrated, absolutely flea-infested, absolutely filthy.”
Still, she said, many of the Chihuahuas were doing remarkably well.
“They have had very little human contact. They had not seen the light of day,” Harvey said. “So imagine in their little worlds, what they’ve gone through is from this environment that they became used to but was awful, they’ve now been moved to a new place and meeting people.”
Harvey said 391 animals now live at the shelter, while another 225 are in foster homes.
The case involving the Chihuahuas, Harvey said, “has pushed us to a point where we really need to reach out to the community and say, ‘Please come in and adopt.’”
All the hoarding cases, Harvey said, “were very sad situations where not only was there animal crisis and tragedy but there’s human crisis and tragedy, all involving some aspects of disability, mental or physical disability.”
She said the APL always makes sure “while it is our role to take care of the animals in these situations and seek justice for them, that also the appropriate agencies have been notified to make sure these people are going to be okay too.”
The APL continues to investigate the hoarding cases, including the one involving the Chihuahuas, which Harvey described as a breeding operation that “got out of control.”
“These dogs were all being kept in a house,” Harvey said. “They were living on their own. They have lacked critical socialization and human contact. They’re not house-trained, so these dogs are all going to require some really special care and homes that [are] going to understand those needs and be willing to work with them. They’re not going to be plug-and-play adoptions. They’re going to be anything from a little project to a much greater project, but they all deserve a chance.”
While some of the Chihuahuas have already been spoken for, the others will be available for adoption at $150 each, including a microchip, in the coming days and weeks.
“Because of the needs of these animals and again, the number that came in all at once, they’re going to be trickling to the adoption floor over the course of the next couple weeks,” Harvey said.
The APL said while not all the Chihuahuas are ready for adoption, when they are, they will appear on the APL’s website here.
The cats from the other hoarding cases, for the most part, are “nice cats,” Harvey said. She added that many of them were also available for adoption.
In the meantime, Harvey urged people to come out this weekend and adopt a cat or one of the other dogs “so that we can open up some cage space to keep helping more animals.”
In an effort to find homes for these animals, the APL is reducing adoption fees to $10 for adult cats and $50 for select adult dogs from Friday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Sept. 29.
If you can't adopt, the APL encourages the public to consider making a donation to the organization's Second Chance Program. The organization is also in need of hot dogs, string cheese, spray cheese, cat toys and pipe cleaners.
The Cleveland APL Humane Investigation Program, which investigates 1,196 cases, is completely funded by donations.
“We are a charity,” Harvey said. “We’re a private nonprofit. That program and everything we do is supported by donations and our fees for service.”
Krystal Muzzin of Cleveland came in Friday to adopt a Chihuahua, after visiting the night before and bonding with one particular dog.
“She’s really sweet,” Muzzin said. “She’s super nervous, but she’s very, very sweet.”
The dog, approximately five years old, wasn’t what Muzzin originally thought she wanted, although she was looking for a Chihuahua.
“I was actually looking for a younger one, but she’s perfect,” Muzzin said.
Muzzin said she has anxiety herself and hoped she and the dog, whom she hadn't yet named, would be able to help each other, after what the dog experienced before coming to the APL.
“It’s sad. It’s awful,” Muzzin said. “I just want to give her her best life. That’s what she deserves.”