Over 100 animals were relocated by "Rescue the Animals" last week to a shelter in Indiana. However, volunteers at the Indiana shelter said they were concerned with the safety of dogs when they realized they were not all accounted for and one even died.
The shelter located in Indiana, Lennox's Legacy Rescue, received several Hurricane Harvey dogs from Abilene without medical records and USDA health certifications.
Director of Lennox's Legacy Rescue Katie Wilson said, "I understand wanting to save them but not putting them into worse conditions and risking their lives."
The organization that funded the transport was G.R.R.O.W.L.
Sarah Schuessler, director of G.R.R.O.W.L, said the money raised by her organization directly funded the medical work and all of the papers were completed. Schuessler said that during the transport, dogs were stolen from the trucks.
Schuessler said, "We need to get these dogs back. They have places to go, and they have medicine that they need and if these dogs don't have their medicine they will die."
The President of Rescue the Animals Paul Washburn said that they are conducting their own investigation and that they have never had a problem with the transportation before. Washburn said that he's worked with the organization multiple times.
Wilson said she hopes this raises awareness so this doesn't not happen again.
Allen County Fort Wayne Animal Service has taken some of the dogs into their custody to conduct an investigation. They have not released a statement at this time.
Washburn released a statement:
"We at Rescue the Animals, SPCA are very, very disheartened and extremely angry to learn of the problems with last Friday’s transport to Indiana. We are shocked and upset because these are people we have worked with for several years, and who have always done an excellent job. We have never received a complaint about them.
We will no longer work with any of the rescue groups directly involved in the transport of these animals.
This is the only reported problem we have ever had concerning the health of the animals during any transport. The groups we work with move over 1,000 animals a year from our facility in Abilene to rescue groups all over the nation. The vast majority of the animals transported each year come from kill-shelters and being transported is their only hope to live.
Rescue the Animals, SPCA works with rescue groups in over 35 states. These groups select the animals they want and they arrange transportation. In this case, the volunteers for GRROWL from Indiana were in Abilene for an entire week and made multiple trips to Indiana with dogs from our area with no problems until the final journey.
We did not arrange the specifics of the transport, but we have worked with these people for several years with great success and have never had any complaints about how the animals were treated.
Normally, all the animals are vetted before leaving Abilene. In this case, GRROWL arranged for the dogs to be vetted in Oklahoma City. They raised several thousand dollars online to pay for the vetting. We did not participate raising the money that was used to pay the vet. Since they raised the funds we allowed them to decide which vet to use.
All dogs were unloaded in Oklahoma City and vetted. We have copies of health certificates from that vet. We have confirmed with the vet that the dogs and truck were approved to travel in Oklahoma City, and GRROWL waited until 10:00 p.m. to leave Oklahoma City.
As of Monday morning, we confirmed that all of the dogs taken off the truck by the Sheriff’s Department are alive and their prognosis seems good at this point. Rescue the Animals, SPCA has notified the shelter holding the dogs that we will pay for any and all medical care needed and work with them to be certain the animals go to reliable organizations.
We will also be working with the sheriff’s department in their investigation in any way that we can be of help."