Animal-rescue groups from Bluffton and Ridgeland joined other volunteers Monday to help find homes for 71 dogs found living in squalor in Savannah.
Savannah-Chatham Metro Police and Animal Control spent more than four hours Sunday removing the small dogs, ranging from newborns to mature dogs, from a house in the 300 block of East 33rd Street. It was described as a case of hoarding.
Animal Control took in the dogs, but its pound already was filled, according to metro police.
Friends of Animal Control Team Savannah volunteer coordinator Diane Abolt found two groups willing to help -- Brooke's Haven Animal Rescue of Bluffton and Marantha Farms of Ridgeland.
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"All had fleas and overgrown toenails, but most appear healthy," said Brooke Fisher, owner of Brooke's Haven Animal Rescue and Brooke's Bed & Biscuit kennel.
Fisher took in 16 of the dogs -- none more than a year old. Most are under 10 pounds and a mix of Jack Russell terrier, Chihuahua and papillion.
Volunteers helped wash and vaccinate the dogs, which were covered in feces.
"None of them had ever stepped outside. They ran around the house, using it as their own bathroom," Fisher said.
Officers, responding to a complaint of barking dogs, found the house full of clutter and waste. In one room, the waste had been shoveled more than a foot thick, according to police. One officer was bitten while removing the dogs and was treated for the wound.
"They're all very skittish, but given time, they will come out of their shells," Fisher said. "Potty training will be an issue, but with love and good care they will be good dogs. We hope to get the word out and (promote their adoption) on Facebook. Hopefully, we'll have good homes for all of them."
Most of the dogs have gone to rescue organizations, where they will be seen by a veterinarian, inoculated, checked for heart worms, and spayed or neutered, according to police. Some of the dogs are still at Animal Control or in foster care and in need of adoption soon, according to Animal Control officers.
The dogs' owner, Daniel Golden, 43, was cooperating with police. Charges against him are pending, a police spokesman said Monday.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.