Shelter: Rescued dogs are improving, still fearful

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star 

Delaware Valley Humane Society shelter manager Erin Insinga on Thursday pets Fable, an adult female pit bull that was one of 20 dogs rescued from a Franklin residence last week.

SIDNEY — The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office will hold a press conference at the Delaware Valley Humane Society at 11 a.m. Friday to disclose details of an investigation into the abuse and neglect of 20 dogs rescued last week from a property in the town of Franklin.

The dogs, known as the Franklin 20, were rescued from a barn where they were crammed in crates stacked four high, with the puppies crammed in two or three to a crate,* according to Erin Insinga, DVHS shelter manager.

Six dogs were brought to the Susquehanna SPCA and seven were taken in by the Broome County Humane Society, and the remaining seven were kept at DVHS.

“I really believe every single one of these dogs will be adoptable to the right family at the right time,” Insinga said. “They’ve all been wonderful with people. It’s so nice to see them being more like dogs.”

The dogs still have shy and fearful moments, Insinga said. Many are hesitant to accept dog treats or human food from their caregivers.

“They just didn’t know how to take things from humans,” she said.

An animal behaviorist specializing in severe abuse cases will be brought in to work with the dogs in the coming weeks, Insinga said.

All Animals Matter, an Oxford-based nonprofit founded by Insinga’s mother, Diane Troxell, offered to foot the bill for the spay and neuter of the six dogs in the care of DVHS.

The organization also covered half the veterinary bill for Ferdinand, one of the 18 pit bulls rescued that underwent surgery to have his tail partially amputated and a drain inserted into his leg for an open wound, Insinga said.

Nine-week-old Frankie, the youngest of the group, was placed in a foster home with Laura and Scooter Farmer of Otego, whose own dog recently passed away, Insinga said.

“We try to get puppies out here as soon as we can,” Insinga said. “There’s a very small window of time for them to still socialize with humans, and nine weeks was pushing it.”

All but one of the dogs were given a name starting with F, after the town from which they were rescued, Insinga said.

“When you give them names, it adds an element of humanity,” Insinga said. “It takes the statistic away.”

The last dog to be taken away from the barn was an older dog that one of the rescuers named Remo, which means “the strong one” in Italian, Insinga said.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into, and we had run out of cages, so she held Remo in her lap,” Insinga said of the rescuer, who requested to remain anonymous. 

“He sat like a gentleman the whole ride, with his head rested on her shoulder as if he was saying thank you,” Insinga said.

Insinga said she has a soft spot for Fable, the only female pit bull to remain at the Sidney shelter.

“She was overused for breeding,” Insinga said. “You can tell she wants to be friendly, but she definitely has her guard up.”

One of the dogs rescued, a female German shepherd, had to be euthanized the following day, Insinga said.

“It was the most humane thing to do,” she said. “She was the only one that was outwardly aggressive with us.”

The dog’s former owner told rescuers that she was trained to bite people, Insinga said.

“It’s never easy, and definitely not our first choice,” she continued. “But she was beyond rehabilitation — she was a huge danger to herself, to humans and to other animals.”

On Monday, Empire Junk Removal and Recycling of Unadilla hauled away the crates the dogs were housed in, which had sat in a pile in front of the shelter since the night they were rescued, Insinga said.

“It was a very symbolic move to get them out of sight,” Insinga said. “It was a constant reminder of where they came from.”

Every time the dogs were led past the pile of crates, they would try to bolt and hide in them, she said. “Something was lifted from the shelter that day.”

“So many local businesses and people have reached out, from near and far,” Insinga said. “This is just one more example of what can be done through kindness.”

The shelter is requesting donations of all-purpose cleaner, bleach, twist mops, laundry detergent, dry and wet dog food, blankets, toys and dewormer medication. Monetary donations may be made via PayPal at dvhsny.org.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

*changed at 7:31 a.m. to correct how the dogs were  housed.

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