In November 2010, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team deployed to Pope County, Arkansas, to help rescue more than 120 dogs from a volunteer-run animal sanctuary roughly 80 miles northeast of Little Rock.
A Pope County retiree began the sanctuary, called K-9 Hospice, in 2005 as a shelter for ill and elderly dogs. Four years later, when he moved into assisted living, the man handed the reins of the sanctuary to a local woman. The dogs were moved to a barren, 40-acre former pig farm in Hector, Arkansas, where the woman was the dogs’ only daily caretaker. As dogs bred and area residents dropped off unwanted animals, the number of dogs at the shelter spiraled out of control.
After investigating reports that the sanctuary’s dogs were neglected and living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, Pope County Sheriff Aaron DuVall obtained a search warrant and called on the ASPCA and Best Friends Animal Society to help rescue the animals from the hoarding situation.
The FIR Team arrived at the rural property on November 23, 2010, to find dogs and puppies—mostly medium-sized to large breeds like Labradors and Shepherd mixes—living in squalor, many ill and suffering from obvious skin conditions.
"The dogs found on the property appeared to be well-socialized, but there were alarming signs of neglect such as mange and other medical issues," said Kyle Held, the ASPCA’s Midwest Director of Field Investigations and Response. "It’s clear that the dogs were in dire need of treatment, and our mission was to remove the animals from the property and get them triaged by a veterinary team."
Collaborating with a local veterinarian, the ASPCA and Best Friends worked to get the dogs immediate care and transport the animals off the property. The canines were moved to a structure adjacent to the Southwind Animal Hospital in Russellville, Arkansas, for continued care.
The dogs’ caretaker surrendered her animals to Pope County, and Best Friends Animal Society stepped in to shelter the animals, who all made recoveries at Southwind. According to the veterinary clinic, all the dogs had been adopted or transferred to other rescue groups by New Year’s Day 2011!
No charges have yet been filed against the woman who ran K-9 Hospice.
To learn more about animal hoarding, please visit our Hoarding FAQ at ASPCA.org.