Editor's note: This version of the story corrects the address of the Care Center Animal Hospital in Coldwater, Mich.
HILLSDALE, Mich. — Three of four small Shih Tzus dumped on the side of a road in Hillsdale are on the road to recovery.
The fourth dog remains at large. It was sighted initially with the others but was too scared to come to rescuers.
“It hurts my heart to think it is still out there on its own,” said Sally Geer, president of Animal Aid of Branch County, the organization caring for the dogs.
A Hillsdale County resident who lives in the Litchfield area contacted Animal Aid representatives on Monday to say that four Shih Tzus had been apparently dumped by the side of a dirt road near her house. She provided food and water, but they would not come to her. She was afraid they might get hit by a car.
Mrs. Geer and her husband arrived to find two of the dogs wandering on the road and the other two huddled in the weeds. Two were easily caught and taken in to the Care Center Animal Clinic for treatment. A third was caught with the help of neighbors in a live trap the next morning.
The three dogs, which are young adults ages one to four years and weigh about 15 pounds each, suffer from severe neglect.
“They were loaded with fleas, extremely matted hair, feces matted into the hair, open sores, skin infections, ear infections, and dry-eye,” Mrs. Geer said.
Despite their condition, the dogs are not completely anti-social.
“The two boys are very nice, they did a lot of tail wagging at us,” Mrs. Geer said. “The little girl is trembling and terrified, but not growly, or nippy. She let me take her out of the crate, carry her, and mess around taking pictures.”
Coincidentally, they are in similar shape to 18 small dogs, mostly Shih Tzus, that were taken on eeeeeeby-the rescue group less than a month ago. The group received donations to help care for the first batch of dogs, including reduced veterinarian fees.
“But there are still hefty medical costs to pay,” Mrs. Geer said. “But there is no way we would stand by and not help these new little victims."
Mrs. Geer said she didn’t know if these dogs belonged to the same woman who surrendered the first group of dogs. She surrendered the dogs under the condition that she would not be charged
Two of those Shih Tzus had conditions so severe, the dogs could not be saved. All but three of the 16 remaining dogs have been adopted, Mrs. Geer said.
“We think she had been a breeder that became a hoarder,” Mrs. Geer said. “We were contacted by a gal that became aware of the situation. She asked [Animal Aid of Branch County] if we would take the dogs in, if she was able to get the owner to surrender them. She made an agreement with the owner that no charges would be pressed if she surrendered all of her dogs and agreed to unannounced walk-through home visits.”
The total cost of care for all dogs will be about $10,000, after discounts from the Care Center.
“These three will continue to have medicated baths, antibiotics, and eye-drops,” Mrs. Geer said. “When they are healthy enough, they will be spay/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped.”
Mrs. Geer said the newest bunch of dogs may have been dumped by someone who wanted to avoid prosecution for letting the dogs get into such bad condition.
“But it's also surprising how many people don't have any idea how many rescues are willing to help,” she said. “Most are aware of humane societies, but relatively few know anything about the foster-based rescues such as ours.”
Donations to defray expenses can be made to Care Center Animal Hospital, 657 E Chicago Rd., Coldwater, Mich., 49036, or call 517-278-5631 to donate by phone.
Donations may be mailed to Animal Aid of Branch County, 217 N Fiske Rd., Coldwater, 49036 or on the Web site at animalaid-ofbranchcounty.com.