OBG's Largest Rescue: Freedom 46
Here's a letter from OBG's President, written days after OBG rescued 46 dogs from another "rescue" organization.
On Saturday, July 25th, OBG pulled 46 dogs that were housed in a hot barn in rural Virginia. Please read on to learn more about how OBG became involved rescuing the "Freedom 46," where we go from here, and how you can help.
History of the Freedom 46 Rescue
If you are active on social media, you may have been hearing rumors about Heart 2 Heart Cocker Rescue ("H2H") that have been circulating for weeks now regarding 80 dogs living in a barn on a Virginia property. Two of the board members of H2H lived on this property and were the caretakers of these dogs. When I refer to H2H in this email, I am referring to those two board members. It's important for people to understand that not everyone affiliated with H2H was involved with the situation at the Virginia property. In fact, there were other officers and board members of H2H as well as many H2H volunteers who became very concerned after hearing about this situation and seeing pictures posted on Facebook. Recently, OBG was contacted by those officers and board members who were concerned about the situation and asked if we could help.
After days of intense negotiations with H2H as well as coordination with the county's animal control officers and the Virginia Humane Society, arrangements were made for H2H to release the dogs on the VA property to OBG. In fact, this rescue was so last minute that I was still negotiating the details at 6 am on Saturday morning as I was driving an hour and a half to this property. Several other OBG volunteers had also made this early morning leap of faith and were also in their vehicles at that time.
When we arrived at the property, there were 46 dogs living in the hot barn, many coated with their own urine and feces and with empty water bowls. I know many people thought there were going to be more dogs at the property. I do not know if there were more dogs there earlier in the month or if there were, what happened to those dogs. I can only speak to what we discovered when we arrived at the property.
Answers to FAQs
1. How can I help?
I'm so glad you asked! OBG will need foster homes and money to take care of these dogs. The kennel fees alone are going to astronomical. At this point in time, we have no idea what other medical care will be needed for these dogs, but will be receiving daily updates from our vets.
2. Did OBG leave any dogs behind on the property?
We were only granted access to the barn and we did not leave any dogs behind in that barn. We were not granted access to the house or the garage and do not have any knowledge if dogs were inside those buildings.
3. What are the names of the dogs that were rescued?
Sadly, there was nothing in the barn to identify the names of the dogs and we did not receive any medical records. All we have is a Petfinder list of dogs which may or may not include all the dogs that we rescued. OBG now has a very time-consuming task ahead of them to try and figure out which dogs are which and to see if we can locate any medical records for these dogs (for example, some 3rd parties might still have copies of records from when they transported dogs to H2H).
4. Do these dogs possibly belong to anyone other than H2H?
OBG has already received emails from various rescues and/or individuals who either feel they might have a claim to one or more of the dogs on this property. If someone feels they have an ownership claim to any of those dogs (H2H dogs), we will need proof of ownership, a photo of the dog and information on any identifying marks on the dog or identifying health issue. Rest assured, no dog will leave OBG's care unless we have carefully investigated any person or entity claiming one of these dogs.
5. I once assisted in transferring a dog to H2H? Do you have that dog?
I wish I could answer that question, but right now we are in the early stages of trying to identify the 46 dogs pulled from the property.
6. Does OBG still have all 46 dogs?
So far, we have been able to identify 7 dogs that belonged to other rescues. OBG is personally familiar with these other rescues and were therefore able to return their dogs to them. The remaining 39 dogs are still with OBG.
7. Will OBG be transferring any of these dogs to other rescues?
OBG has received offers of assistance from other rescues as well as a no kill SPCA; however, no decisions have yet been made. As I indicated above, this rescue came about very quickly leaving us little time to plan. We now need to take time to assess each dog that we rescued yesterday and determine what will be in the best interests of that dog. I can guarantee you that OBG will not transfer any dog to another rescue without first carefully investigating that rescue.
8. Are criminal charges going to be pressed against the H2H board members?
That is up to the authorities, not OBG. At this point, I have to be careful how much information that I share. I can tell you some decisions were made based on what would be best for the dogs moving forward and I feel local authorities worked with us in the best possible way under the circumstances.
9. I am an H2H foster and have been unable to contact the H2H board members about the dog(s) that I am fostering. Is OBG going to be responsible for all the H2H dogs?
No. We have not absorbed H2H rescue into our own rescue. Our only involvement was the rescue of the dogs in the barn on the Virginia property. Having said that, we sympathize with your situation. You may want to discuss the situation with an attorney in the state where you reside. If you do find yourself in a situation where you need to work with a different rescue to place your foster dog(s), OBG can give you some suggestions on how to contact a reputable rescue in your area. Feel free to email me at President@cockerspanielrescue.com if you wish to discuss further.
10. Now that you rescued the Freedom 46, will you have to close intake?
No. The OBG board voted to assist these dogs outside of the "normal course of business." That does not mean OBG's foster crisis is over. We still run the risk of having to slow down or halt intake due to a shortage of foster homes for the shelter dogs and owner turn-ins that we are asked to take. In order to help OBG intake stay open, please consider fostering and spread the word about our need for foster homes.
The task in front of us is huge, but I have no doubt that with ongoing support from all of you, we are up to the challenge. The Freedom 46 already have a better life today than they had in the weeks leading up to their rescue. They are no longer living in cages in a hot barn. They are getting exercise every day, clean water, regular meals and medical care. With YOUR help, their life will continue to get better and better every day.
As always, thank you all for your ongoing support.
Your Friend In Rescue,