Owner has surrendered 56 dogs to Hawkins shelter since April

Jeff Bobo • May 30, 2020 at 9:30 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Ordinarily a 31-dog addition to the Hawkins County Humane Society’s population, including two pregnant ones, would be a borderline disaster for the animal shelter.

Since the COVD-19 crisis began, however, the HCHS has been adopting dogs out almost faster than they’re coming in.

As of Friday morning, the shelter had only nine dogs, including two puppies, available for adoption.

After Thursday’s massive rescue of 31 dogs in the Bear Hollow area near Rogersville, HCHS manager Sandy Behnke is hoping the organization’s luck with adoptions holds out.

Shelter staff responded to a remote residence off Bear Hollow Road that could be accessed only through private property to retrieve what they were originally told was about 50 dogs.

The owner had recently moved out of the trailer owned by his father and into government-assisted living. As a result, he was no longer able to care for his dogs, which numbered nearly 60 before he delivered two groups of them to the shelter last month.

“His sister had contacted us (earlier this spring) and said there was like 60-plus dogs there, and that we needed to do something about it,” Behnke said. “In early April, he brought in 15, and then he brought in another 10 in late April, and most of them had puppies from 3 days old to 3 weeks old. Then I guess the sister told him they need to all be gone, so we got a call yesterday (Thursday) to go out and get the rest of them.”

Behnke added, “They said there was about 50, but we got 31, and there were three others we know of for sure that we couldn’t catch because they kept running off into the woods.”

The man, whose name wasn’t released, voluntarily surrendered all of the animals. Beknke said his dogs are small breed mixes of Jack Russell and Chihuahua, and the original 25 he brought in last month didn’t spend much time in the shelter. All but two have been adopted, including several puppies, which were even more highly sought after.

Behnke said the latest group of 31 dogs should be ready to adopt out in seven to 10 days, except for the two pregnant ones she hopes to send to a foster home until the puppies are weened and old enough to be adopted.

She’s expecting a big demand for the puppies. Behnke said that when they are available for adoption, the date and time will be posted on the HCHS Facebook page, and adoptions will be granted on a first come, first served basis.

As of Friday, staff members were still giving the new residents shots and worm medicine and getting their paperwork completed.

Behnke said the owner kept the dogs fed and watered, and they weren’t neglected. She said he loved the dogs and cried when he made his two deliveries to the shelter in April.

“They were his dogs, and he just didn’t know what ‘spay and neuter’ meant,” Behnke said. “So we have dogs from age 3 weeks up to age 10, and they are all inbred. In this new batch, we have one mom with three puppies that are about 3 weeks old.”

Behnke added, “Then we have two that are pregnant and due any day. The youngest pup we brought in is probably 3 months — and then they just go up. Six months, a year, four years, and all the way up to 10. They’re small breed and won’t get any bigger than what they are.”

For more information, call the shelter at (423) 272-6538 or visit the Hawkins County Humane Society Facebook page



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