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Published: Sunday, 2/24/2008

Rescued dogs, cats in Wood County in need of homes

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Pam Fletcher and daughter Ariell, 13, get acquainted with one of the dogs available at a Wood County Humane Society adoption event yesterday at the Woodland Mall. Pam Fletcher and daughter Ariell, 13, get acquainted with one of the dogs available at a Wood County Humane Society adoption event yesterday at the Woodland Mall.
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BOWLING GREEN - It was a house in the country with two floors and three bedrooms.

And inside this month sheriff's deputies on an animal cruelty investigation discovered more than 100 dogs and cats crammed in and roaming about there.

Both the animals and the interior of the home were covered in urine and feces; nearly everything also reeked of ammonia.

"A fair number were malnourished," said Margaret Weinberger, vice president of shelter operations for the Wood County Humane Society.

"Many were so severely matted with feces that it inhibited their movement."

Altogether, Wood County deputies Feb. 7 found about 85 dogs, 20 cats, and 2 birds at the 23650 Stony Ridge Rd. home belonging to Timothy and Barbara Heidtman. Outside in a barn there were about 20 more dogs, Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said.

Possible criminal charges against the couple are being handled by the Perrysburg Prosecutor's Office.

"I've been in a lot of houses, and I don't ever know of a house having over 80 dogs," the sheriff said.

Humane Society volunteer Nora Solomon holds Spock for admirers Kortney Gonyer of Wayne, Ohio, and Stacy Smith of Luckey, Ohio. Humane Society volunteer Nora Solomon holds Spock for admirers Kortney Gonyer of Wayne, Ohio, and Stacy Smith of Luckey, Ohio.
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Until this month, neither had the humane society.

The group began housing the animals in its shelter facility at 801 Van Camp Rd., Bowling Green, as its staff and volunteers worked round-the-clock to bathe, feed, immunize, and spay and neuter the animals, Ms. Weinberger said.

None had to be killed, she said proudly. However, about 25 dogs are recovering from mange, a skin condition caused by burrowing mites.

With most of the dogs and cats back to health, the humane society has begun a series of five Adopt-A-Thons to find the creatures new homes. An $80 adoption fee includes the animals' vaccinations and medical examinations.

During yesterday's kickoff Adopt-A-Thon inside Woodland Mall nearly 200 visitors crowded around 11 cages, each containing a freshly groomed and newly named rescued dog.

"If you would have seen them from day one, when they came in that night, to today - it's a miracle," said Karla Hines, a humane society volunteer.

Cyndi Buechler of Bowling Green said while she and her 11-year-old son, Matthew, already have two dogs at home,

they couldn't resist but fill out an adoption application for a scrawny gray terrier named Harry.

"I can see how very abused these poor things were," Ms. Buechler said.

Other visitors included the Jorrey family of Bowling Green.

"These doggies really do deserve good homes," Lora Jorrey said.

"We already have a dog, a very spoiled dog. But there is always room for one more."

Her son, Kevin Jorrey, 19, said the family had often driven past the house where the animals were kept, and never noticed anything usual that would have hinted at the pandemonium within.

"We drive by there a lot, and we could never tell any of this was going on," he said.

Ms. Weinberger said she does not believe that the Stony Ridge Road homeowners were running a "puppy mill."

"It seemed like a hoarding situation to me," she said.

Attempts yesterday to contact the Heidtmans were unsuccessful; a phone number once listed for the household was disconnected.

The Adopt-A-Thons continue today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Petco, 1111 South Main St., Bowling Green; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Poco's Playhouse, Perrysburg, and then March 2 at Pet Supplies Plus in Rossford.

The final adoption session is slated for 1 to 5 p.m. March 15 at Gold Star Pet Resort in Bowling Green.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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