Honestly, when the pictures first started popping up online, I couldn’t even look at them. Then the news stories kept coming about the 150+ dogs that were pulled from a single home in Bastrop. The rescuers said the feces was “2 feet high” throughout the entire house. Apparently, the owners had become so overwhelmed by their situation, they had even built a shed and THEY moved into it, and let the dogs take over the actual house. The pictures were devastating.
For some reason, it didn’t occur to me that the Austin Humane Society would need help grooming these pups. The news stories were all just asking for donations of crates, blankets, etc. However, on Wednesday afternoon, I got an email from them asking if any of our groomers could come and help get the dogs ready for their big adoption day on Saturday. I sent out an email to our staff, knowing that we were smack in the middle of our “busy season”. I also figured I knew as much about getting mats off dogs as most of the shelter workers and could at least help in some way, so I packed up some clippers and some puppy treats and headed up there Thursday afternoon.
One of our groomers, Stephanie Nance, called me when I was on my way and told me she was headed there too. She ended up getting there before me and sent a text saying, “Pick up some muzzles on your way.” I was almost there when I got it, so I called her to ask if I really needed to go get some. She said, “Actually, no. I thought we might need them, but this dog that I’m working on is just laying here. He’s really sweet!”
When I pulled up and parked, someone walked into the building and the smell was so strong, it reached my car. When I got in to the building and found Stephanie, she said, “you’ll get used to it” and I did.
They showed me to the “auditorium” where just some of the dogs were being kept.
Overwhelming. The word kept popping up.
However, the staff was amazing. They had a system in which the dogs were being shaved, then bathed, then off to surgery to be spayed/neutered and to fix any other medical needs.
There were volunteers EVERYWHERE–other groomers, bathers, etc., and it was really incredible to see just how little chaos there was. Actually, there wasn’t any. You might imagine that the room above would have been really loud, but in fact, most of the dogs were sleeping.
A couple of thoughts:
I’m hearing a lot of people saying that they hope that the previous owners of these pups “get what they deserve”. However, I really think it was obvious that these people have a mental illness. They may have started out with some of these dogs thinking that they would breed them, but they dogs weren’t in cages. The dogs are not afraid of people. Yes, they were SEVERELY neglected and I understand that is a form of abuse, but I don’t think that these humans are “evil”. I truly hope that they get the HELP that they need.
When I heard the lady from the shelter say on the news, “Surprisingly, after all these pups have been through, they are all really sweet!” I assumed she was exaggerating a little bit to increase the chances of them being adopted. However, she wasn’t exaggerating at ALL! Every single dog we met was SUPER sweet and was really excited for human contact. Even Maddox, who had a big red DANGER on his crate, ended up giving us kisses by the end of being groomed.
Stephanie and I worked as a team–she was cutting their hair while I was doing the “deep-massage-to-distract-the-dog” move that I learned from Tara Stermer. Literally, they were almost falling asleep while being groomed, and for a fact, this was the first time these dogs had ever had any grooming done. Not only can it be scary for a dog, but these dogs were so matted, that it can be a bit painful. We just kept telling them how great their lives were about to be and that this was worth it. They seemed to understand and they were all so brave. I’m really not sure how I made it out of there without a dog….or seven. Without further ado, here are some more pictures. Keep in mind, the grooming isn’t perfect. The main goal was to get off as much mats as possible so that they could get baths and clean them up.
Kirby before his haircut. He was the SWEETEST little pup and has a birth defect called “open fontanel” which occurs when the skull bones at the top of the head fail to close.
Kirby, after his haircut, before his bath. And bonus–He’s already been adopted!!
This is Maddox, the one with the DANGER note on his cage, before his haircut. Those mats are feces.
During the haircut, Maddox kept laying down. He was nervous, but as you can see in the above picture, his tail was wagging the whole time :)
Maddox, after his haircut and his bath. Stephanie went to say “bye” to him and he came to the front of his kennel and licked her hand to say thanks. Yup, it was a teary moment.
This is Easton. I know the pictures are disturbing, but as I kept saying to myself, and the pups, it is all up from here!!
Another cool thing that happened, when I first got there, Stephanie’s grooming “room” was actually the handicap bathroom. She pointed across the hall to the vet’s office and I looked up to see this:
Mary Egan was my next door neighbor growing up in Dallas! Actually, I’m the same age as her oldest sister, so she was always the “baby” following us around. I know this is kind of weird, but I’m really proud of her, or at least to say, “I knew her when….”
There has been a lot of news coverage on this story, and Stephanie was the star in a couple of them. Here’s a shot of her grooming while being filmed for one :)
The rest of these pictures are just a couple that I wanted to share.
Truly, each dog was cuter than the last. I know that they’ll all find homes, and I’m telling you if you are even THINKING about getting a dog, head over to their adoption day tomorrow cause these pups are going to go fast. And you might have to wrestle one from me :) Even if you aren’t in the market for a new pup, the shelter is asking for monetary/gift card donations, and they said they could ALWAYS use volunteers for cleaning, etc. Visit their website for more info: