Dog neglect like you've never seen (VIDEO and upsetting images)

Suncoast Animal League took on five Lhasa Apsos; Suncoast Animal League co-founder Rick Chaboudy says he's never seen anything this bad in 30 years of rescues.

That's a face. Really — see the sweet little tongue? These pups were so neglected the matted fur around their feet formed gloves, preventing the dogs from walking. - Rick Chaboudy
Rick Chaboudy
That's a face. Really — see the sweet little tongue? These pups were so neglected the matted fur around their feet formed gloves, preventing the dogs from walking.
After 30 years working rescuing dogs, Suncoast Animal League executive director and co-founder Rick Chaboudy has been on scene to assist local authorities with seizures and hoarding cases numerous times. But on February 20, Chaboudy responded to what he describes as the worst case of neglect he has ever seen.

At 11:30 p.m., he drove to Ruskin to pick up five Lhasa Apsos surrendered to Critter Mamas Rescue the day before.

He took the dogs straight to Island Dog Outfitters; here began hours of painstaking work to relieve the dogs from years of neglect.

Suncoast Animal League co-founder Rick Chaboudy (left) and volunteer Clint Wilson (owner of Island Dog Outfitters), along with other volunteers, spent the entire night cutting away matted fur, clipping nails, and trying to make the dogs comfortable. - Suncoast Animal League
Suncoast Animal League
Suncoast Animal League co-founder Rick Chaboudy (left) and volunteer Clint Wilson (owner of Island Dog Outfitters), along with other volunteers, spent the entire night cutting away matted fur, clipping nails, and trying to make the dogs comfortable.
"The smell on the ride back was awful, " Chaboudy told Creative Loafing. "The mats on these dogs were so thick, one of the dogs' ears was stuck to her head. Feces and urine were caked into the mats but their feet were the worst." Chaboudy described one of the dog's feet as if it was encased in boxing glove:

"There was two inches of matted fur between the paw and the ground, making it nearly impossible for the dog to walk," Chaboudy said. All the dogs' toenails were overgrown by three or four inches and were turned in many different directions.

Because of how the nails had grown — through the matted fur, no less — the dogs have forgotten how to walk. - Critter Mama Rescue
Critter Mama Rescue
Because of how the nails had grown — through the matted fur, no less — the dogs have forgotten how to walk.
"We removed between one and one-half pound of mats from the foot of one dog alone," Chaboudy said. He described the smell coming from the dogs as the worst part.

"One of our volunteers left the grooming room a couple of times," Chaboudy said. "We later learned that it was because she became physically ill. But she just kept coming back and continued to work on the dogs".

That's a dog under that matted fur. - Rick Chaboudy
Rick Chaboudy
That's a dog under that matted fur.
Chaboudy, along with the owner of Island Dog Outfitters, Clint Wilson, and volunteers Lindsay Murray and Diana Vanegas worked through the night, finishing around 8:30 the next morning. A veterinarian examined them and that exam revealed how much more damage the dogs had: All the dogs have internal and external parasites and skin and ear infections. They are all partially or completely blind; one has a hole in her cornea. They are malnourished and suffer from severe dental disease and have luxating patellas (dislocated knees.) None of the dogs were able to walk normally due to the matting — one dog was even unable to stand. 

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Today they are recovering at the shelter, "enjoying the sunshine" according to Chaboudy. He describes them as being shut down, like their lives were non-existent.

Chaboudy says he doesn't know if they ever went outside. Their condition makes it tough to tell how old they are; while the surrender papers indicate the dogs range in age from four to 13, the vet told Chaboudy he believes they are all at least 10. Two of the females appear to have been repeatedly bred.

On Suncoast Animal League's Facebook page, people expressed both gratitude for Chaboudy and Suncoast Animal League, but also outrage: The owners should pay for what they did. It's a common reaction, but Chaboudy wants to know what happened.

To give you an idea of how neglected these dogs were, take a look at the unshaved rear of this pup. - Critter Mama Rescue
Critter Mama Rescue
To give you an idea of how neglected these dogs were, take a look at the unshaved rear of this pup.
"I just want to ask him how did it get this bad?" Chaubody says. His main concern is for the dogs; he'd like to find out more about the dogs and see if the owner can tell him exactly how old they are. He wants to be able to give adopters as much information as possible about what to expect for their future.

click to enlarge With patience and practice, the dogs have started to walk properly. - Rick Chaboudy
Rick Chaboudy
With patience and practice, the dogs have started to walk properly.
The first priority for Suncoast Animal League remains getting the dogs healthy. They're currently all taking antibiotics, steroids and eye drops (one pup gets eye drops every two hours) and they all need extensive dental surgery. But along that journey, they will have clean beds, proper food and lots of love at the shelter.

Annette Dettloff, who cofounded Suncoast Animal League with Chaboudy, says she's learning each pup's personalities. She knows Sequoia tends to shy away from the other dogs and spends her time in the play yard alone. Helen? She's a grunter — she makes little grunting noises and snores loudly. Sissy was unable to walk when she arrived, but now walks — gingerly. Achilles is the only male and while outside, he (ahem) continued to show his affection for the ladies; Lily made it clear she was not interested. Here's a video; in it, you can hear Helen grunting.

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They are coming around, slowly. But they are safe and will never experience the trauma they endured ever again.

"They are very sweet now that they are not so scared," Dettloff says.

Suncoast Animal League is a non-profit animal rescue agency located in Palm Harbor, committed to serving its community with its domestic and wildlife needs.The shelter is only 1,700 square feet so the rescue relies heavily on foster families for their dogs and cats.The shelter also relies on donations to help with operating costs.The Lhasa Apsos are not the only medical cases the shelter has and donations are welcome. If you would to find out about fostering for the shelter or if you can make a donation, please visit suncoastanimalleague.org

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