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Last of dogs, cats found abandoned in home in Collins, Mo. ready for adoption

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 5:05 PM CDT
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BOLIVAR, Mo. (KY3) - Most of the 20 dogs found abandoned on a rural property in Polk County after their owner died are recovering. And all but three of the survivors have found forever homes.

Dawn, Lumen and Flare are three beautiful, healthy, loving dogs who crave the touch of humans and jump up and come to the fence with tails wagging anytime someone approaches their pens at the Polk County Humane Society just outside Bolivar.

To see them now, you’d never be able to comprehend the horrible circumstances they were in just four months ago when they wanted nothing to do with humans and ran for cover in the woods when people approached them with treats.

They were three of the 20 dogs (most of them lab-mix) discovered by the Polk County Human Society in February living in squalor conditions around a rural home near Collins, Mo. after their owner died. The home was nothing more than an unkept shack with open sides and no doors, and the malnourished dogs were wandering around the property scrounging for food but afraid of anyone who came to their aid.

“This is the worst conditions we’d ever seen here,” said Michelle Derby with the Polk Co. Humane Society.  “Just the condition of the home, the surroundings. It was actually unbelievable.”It took over two months and too many visits to count for the Polk County Humane Society to round up all the dogs running in and out of the wooded area but it was a labor of love the organization’s members never backed away from getting accomplished.”It’s something you get involved in that you just can’t let ‘em go because you know they’re out there,” Derby said of the vigilant efforts of the crew, pointing out fellow employee Vicki Haworth for her unending efforts.

And all of those efforts paid off as the dogs you see today are totally different from the dogs they found back then.

“They were not socialized at all,” Derby said.  “They were wild because they had never been around anybody but one person. They were starving and in bad health. They had mange, worms, skin disease, loss of hair and were skinny.  Now they’re much healthier, their hair is in, they’re happy and they like being around people and love attention. It’s an amazing experience to see that happen and to then see the dogs find their forever home.”

Seventeen of the 20 dogs survived after they were brought to the shelter and with the help of other shelters as far away as Iowa and Kansas City, 14 of the 17 have now been adopted. Dawn was supposed to go to a new home on Monday but the adopter was a no show. So Dawn, Lumen and Flare remain as the last members of the Collins crew. Haworth was also vigilant in tracking down 10 cats  found on the property including one named Julius who was rubbing up against her seeking some affection during an interview.

”As you can see he’s very, very loving,” Haworth said. “But when we first got him I’d have to take him to the vet in a cage because he’d want to attack. Of all the cats I would have thought a couple of them would have had to be put down just by looks alone. They looked very ill.  It’s amazing how much they’ve bounced back. But I knew they could be somebody’s pet, not just running around wild in the middle of nowhere.”

Even with the success story of the Collins case, the Polk County Humane Society still has 35 other dogs and around 50 cats in need of a home as the let up in the pandemic has not brought a let up in the homeless pet population.

”We have more need now even than we did during the pandemic,” Derby said.  “Maybe because more people are moving or getting into situations where they cannot take the animal with them. So we get a large population and end up with a waiting list.”

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