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Habersham Rescue Case: 1-Year Anniversary

April 13 for most people is just a regular day. But April 13 for many people is the day 350+ dogs received a second chance to have a happy life full of love.

In the early morning of April 13, 2017, dozens of animal welfare workers, including a team from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia (HSNEGA), were called to a home in Habersham County in northeast Georgia. The local animal control officers had discovered what they believed was a puppy mill operation. The dogs were living in horrific conditions and suffering from various level of neglect including rotten teeth, cancerous tumors and severely matted coats tearing away at the skin. The sheer number of animals in need, and their critical condition, was overwhelming. The rescue took two full days, and then the real work began.

Over several weeks, the dogs were evaluated, treated, and then sent to shelters to rehome. HSNEGA took in 56 of the dogs into our care, but our team soon discovered their emotional and mental issues were more severe than their physical issues. The older dogs had never known a kind touch, a loving cuddle, or a sweet word. They would cower from humans or, worse, lash out in fear. It took weeks for the “best” of the dogs to be available for adoption, and many months for all of them to find new homes. Once in a home, the dogs still needed more months of loving patience from their new families to adjust.

With tomorrow being the 1-year anniversary of the case, we wanted to share just a few of the stories of the dogs rescued, their journey, and where they are now.

“Molly was one of the mamas from the case. She needed a foster and I decided she needed to come home with me, so we packed her up with her babies and that was that. It was love at first wag, and she became mine along with one of her 3-hour-old puppies. I’m not sure which of the three of us is in charge but we are surely living happily ever after!” ~ Molly, Maxx and Mom

“When I met Tiberius, he was an underweight black puff. Even though he was just a few weeks old when rescued, there was already an uncertainty and fear in his eyes. I vowed to give him love and stability and show him the courage he possessed all along. While still a black puff, today Tiberius also is a fearless warrior. He adds love and joy to my life beyond measure! I may have rescued Tiberius, but he rescued me too!” ~ Tiberius’ Mom

“This is Angel, formally Sweet Pea. It’s been a long, happy trip to show this puppy the love she deserved. At first she would have nothing to do with her daddy. She was a mama’s dog. I believe she was mistreated by a male in her five years in the puppy mill. Slowly she began to trust me and became her daddy’s dog. We trust each other so much I now walk her off leash and she does great! She’s still not a loving dog in the way “normal” dogs are. She does not like anyone “in her face” and always turns her back to you, but she is so happy I will take her like she is. She definitely rescued us!” ~ Angel’s Dad

“Despite Dozer’s background as one of the 22 dogs kept in the house, he has a few problems. He guards his food and can be mean to the cats and other dogs at times. During the 7 months I volunteered my time to care for these dogs, I promised myself and my husband I wasn’t going to adopt one of them, but in the end, I couldn’t bear the thought of this little half-blind furball going anywhere but home with me. He’s turned out to be such a happy dog who is my constant companion.” ~ Dozer’s Mom

“Dottie was my one of favorite rescues from the Habersham case. She was in terrible shape when she was rescued, including several tumors, but though she was fearful, she was never aggressive. Dottie’s foster mom adopted her last summer and then, at Christmas, found out Dottie’s cancer had returned and she had only a few weeks to live. Several of the other Habersham adopters decided to throw Dottie a “celebration of life pawty” and, the following week, I was with Dottie and her mom the day Dottie found her peace.

I am eternally grateful Dottie lived the last months of her life in a loving home. She did not die alone, sick, freezing, and hungry.  Through Dottie’s mom and the other adopters, I’ve witnessed first-hand the love, patience, and strength it takes to adopt a dog that has lived a life of neglect and abuse. The people who adopted the Habersham rescues have my lifelong respect for stepping up to give these dogs the home they always deserved.” ~ Julie Edwards, HSNEGA Executive Director

HSNEGA is grateful we were able to be a part of this life-saving rescue and share these updates. These are just a few of the stories of the dogs rescued from the case, and we know there are hundreds more now living a better life thanks to the rescuers, adopters, and the thousands of people who supported these dogs with their gifts to help cover their medical needs and other care until they were adopted. Your love made all the difference for them!