Officials continue to pull dogs from home infested with thousands of rats

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OWEN COUNTY, Ind.-- Agencies across central Indiana are still working clean up a hoarding nightmare in Owen County.

By last Friday, we knew that seventy dogs had been rescued from a rat-infested property in Freedom. We now know around twelve more were pulled out over the weekend.

Inter Tec’s Greg Parker says as of Tuesday morning there are likely a few more there, which means despite the best pest control efforts, they’re still sharing the home with 40,000 to 60,000 rats. When officials first arrived, there were about 100,000 rats.

“I mean I’ve experienced other hoarding-type cases, but this is a magnitude that I think is surprising everyone,” said Cherie Fox, cofounder of Misty Eyes Animal Center in Avon.

Now that people are seeing the new photos of the property, they’re even more stunned.

“Years and years ago, a case like this would have resulted in a broad spectrum euthanasia,” said Fox.

Some dogs were in such bad shape, they did have to be put down. Most are now scattered across central Indiana rescue shelters, including the Owen County Humane Society, Humane Society of Sullivan County, Humane Society of Putnam County, Monroe County Humane Association, The Nest, Our Lil Bit of Heaven and Misty Eyes.

A volunteer from Misty Eyes drove down to Owen County to pick up six dogs.

“The two older females that we brought in are typical to this kind of situation,” Fox said. “They’re absolutely terrified.”

Misty Eyes is also fostering four motherless puppies. Three of the four have either been hurt or have birth defects in the hind legs.

Like the many other dogs, those problems can’t even be treated until they get basic care, like vaccinations, spay and neutering and heartworm testing.

For all the dogs, Fox says the total cost will be mind-boggling.

“It’s hard to grasp a number because you don’t know how many of them have underlying health issues,” says Fox. “When you start getting into illnesses, injuries and birth defects, you can run into money, a lot more money.”

Basic care alone, Fox says, will cost thousands of dollars, so medical care for all 82 could easily be over $100,000.

In addition to those costs, cleanup costs in Owen County are mounting.

Parker says it’s not a cleanup many pest businesses would even attempt. He estimates the rat removal job will cost more than $30,000 by the time all are removed.

“We are a small animal shelter in Owen County, we value every life, and have some of the biggest hearts for animals that you will ever come across and will help each dog find their happily ever after (finally) with your help!” the shelter said on a YouCaring page set up to help the pets.

The shelter said there’s an urgent need for donations, including:

  • Bleach
  • Paper towels
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dish soap

Monetary donations are also needed. They can be sent to:

Owen County Humane Society
2014 Romona Road
Spencer, IN 47460

Online donations can also be made via PayPal to owendogscats@gmail.com. You can call the shelter at (812) 829-6247.

Our Lil Bit of Heaven is assisting with 16 of the dogs, which is also straining their resources. They're also accepting donations via PayPal to ownedbycaninesandloveit@yahoo.com.

The shelter does not need dog food, saying it has received enough through generous donations to last for two months, which is their storage capacity.

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