- Mark Fink
Every day the Southside SPCA directors are prepared for the unexpected. But what they weren’t prepared for is the call for help they received in February of this year. Animal control officers in rural southern Virginia happened upon a property, off an old logging road, where they discovered a massive number of dogs in need. Without the knowledge or resources to handle a rescue of this magnitude, they needed our assistance. Our staff is used to dealing with hoarding situations, and we have handled many large-scale rescues, but were we prepared for another?
Animal Control’s initial count was approximately 70 dogs. When a Southside SPCA staff member entered the property, she realized that was a conservative count…the number of dogs in need of rescue was over 90! It was immediately evident that more help would be needed. That’s when the planning and networking began: our service area is already over-populated with animals in need, and we knew we needed to reach out to rescue organizations outside of our area.
After a week of careful planning and organizing, the Southside SPCA led a team of over 10 groups from Fredericksburg, Stafford County, Northern, VA, and beyond. At the crack of dawn, on a cold Monday morning, a caravan of over 15 transport vans and trailers headed down I-95 to help.
We convened at the local county offices, where Southside SPCA staff briefed the rescue organizations. From there we descended on the property and efficiently and gently removed 94 dogs.
Every group worked tirelessly and stretched their resources to save as many dogs as they could. We rescued Hounds, Labs, Pitbulls, Dachshunds, Beagles, Chihuahuas, and many other breeds and mixes. Some needed immediate veterinary care. Others just needed proper nutrition, protection from the elements, and a soft place to lay their head. At the end of the day, only 4 dogs remained, and we departed with the promise that they too would be saved as soon as space permitted. A week later they were removed and placed in another organization’s care.
Ultimately 98 dogs in total were rescued. The Southside SPCA brought together many groups with the sole purpose of making a difference in the lives of these dogs in need. We made some amazing new friends that day and learned, when it comes to rescue, it truly does “take a village”.