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Ogden • Shelter workers scrambled this week to figure out what to do with 149 sick and starving Chihuahua dogs rescued from the home of an animal-lover turned hoarder.
Volunteers began removing the dogs Monday night after the owner called an animal shelter for help, the Standard-Examiner reported.
Pack 'N Pounce Animal Rescue spokeswoman Becky Cousineau was among the group that responded to the call.
"The lawn was gorgeous, the exterior of the home was in wonderful condition, but when you opened the door, the smell," she said. "It was overwhelming from 15 feet away."
The man apparently had been taking in strays and allowing them to reproduce. Neighbors also began dumping their unwanted pets over his 4-foot chain-link fence, Cousineau said.
The man was in poor health and living on a limited income. He shut off his electricity and telephone service to pay for dog food and even took the blankets off his bed to provide warmth for litters of puppies, Cousineau said.
The man initially told shelter workers that he had 60 dogs in his home, but the number kept mounting, the Standard-Examiner reported.
At least 16 of the rescued dogs are puppies. Officials have classified them all as mixed-breed Chihuahuas.
The animals are suffering from starvation and ammonia burns from exposure to urine. Some have birth defects from inbreeding, Cousineau said.
Lt. Chad Ferrin at the Weber County Animal Shelter told the Standard-Examiner that the 119 dogs the shelter took in need shots and de-worming and must see a vet before they can be adopted.
Rescuers have a nine-page waiting list for adoptions and are raising money to help the owner.
The man, who speaks limited English, is now receiving counseling.
"His intentions were to rescue these dogs," Cousineau. "The dogs keep having puppies, and he didn't know what to do."