BOISE -- Nearly two weeks ago, the Idaho Humane Society took in 57 dogs from one house in Jerome. They described conditions as "tragic and disturbing," calling it one of their most challenging rescues ever.
Most of the dogs rescued from Jerome look like any others at the Idaho Humane Society. The signs of their abuse are fading away.
"A solitary gentleman living in house that was basically falling down around him with a large number of dogs kept inside the house only, never allowed to be outside," said Executive Director Dr. Jeff Rosenthal.
Rosenthal said 63 dogs lived in the house. The Idaho Humane Society took 57 of them.
"All of the dogs we brought in had medical conditions, from mild to severe. Five of the dogs had parvovirus. One of them actually didn't survive that," said Rosenthal.
They were all ages, from a few weeks to many years. Rosenthal believes some of the dogs were born in the house, and lived their whole lives in the terrible conditions.
"They were covered in feces and urine. The floor was saturated with a large quantity of feces and urine...I mean just appalling. I think one of the worst situations we've ever dealt with, and we've dealt with many, many issues around the state, many similar situations so that's saying a lot when one of my officers who has over 25 years of experience says that it was the worst home he'd ever encountered."
The medical issues were just the beginning of problems.
"This may be one of our most challenging rescues because we have so many dogs with behavioral issues, very poorly socialized, if socialized at all. So that's been the real challenge with this rescue, and that's why we've been able to place so few of the dogs so far," said Rosenthal.
It's a strain on their resources. They have more than 50 dogs, all needing medical care, and many needing special attention for behavioral problems.
"We have both our staff and our most experienced volunteers working with them daily to try to bring them around. And we're making progress. They're coming around. But we have some real difficult cases, dogs that really haven't been in a normal home situation, dogs that are very fearful very unsocialized," said Rosenthal.
Some dogs are ready for adoption, and Rosenthal looks forward to the day when the rest are too.
"It's a struggle, but we're making some progress, and we're hopeful," he said.
Rosenthal said the man living the house claimed people kept dropping dogs off on his property. The Jerome County Sheriff's Office is handling his case, but the man will not face felony charges.
Some of the dogs are ready for adoption. Folks at the Humane Society said even adopting dogs that aren't from Jerome helps free up resources to care for the needy animals.
Rosenthal says often in rural Idaho there are no animal shelters. People will set up good, legitimate rescue homes for animals. This may have been a similar situation that went badly.