A staggering 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. shelters every year, but there is also an alarming number of stray and abandoned animals living on the streets. Companion animals are abandoned in homes when their humans move away, are left tied up in backyards or are dumped along the side of rural roads. Those who work in animal rescue encounter these horrible situations on a regular basis, and it’s especially heartbreaking when you discover a situation where multiple dogs are living in a state of neglect.

Two people were recently hiking through a forest in central Iowa when they discovered an area that appeared to have become a dumping ground for unwanted dogs. Community members said that people frequently abandoned dogs in the area and soon, members of AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport arrived at the forest to begin rescue efforts. The organization was able to humanely trap seven of the dogs within a couple of days and immediately brought them to the veterinarian for much-needed treatment.

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People Are Abandoning Their Dogs in This Iowa Forest Because They No Longer Want Them

 

Many of the dogs had bite wounds from being attacked by other dogs, and one elderly dog had a serious eye infection resulting from an injury. The dogs were also covered in ticks, and sadly, many tested positive for Lyme disease. Another dog’s coat was so matted, its fur had formed into dreadlocks. Several days after the initial rescue, they were able to catch even more dogs, one of which had a bite wound infested with maggots, infections in both ears, and a broken tibia.

People Are Abandoning Their Dogs in This Iowa Forest Because They No Longer Want Them

 

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Several dogs remain in the forest, and it’s suspected that some are feral from lack of human contact. Over the past two weeks, AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport has worked diligently to rescue the remaining dogs and is collecting donations to cover the rescued dogs’ medical expenses.

The story and photos are absolutely heartbreaking, and it’s hard to understand how someone could abandon their pet. But because of the two hikers and AHeinz57, these dogs are getting the love and care they need and deserve and will soon find adoptive homes.

Abandoning Animals is Cruel and Places Them in Danger

People Are Abandoning Their Dogs in This Iowa Forest Because They No Longer Want Them

 

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There are many reasons why people abandon their pets. Some do it because they no longer want the responsibility or the pet is getting old. Others may lack the financial resources to properly care for their pet, are moving or feel it’s the best option (for themselves). Whatever the reason, it is never okay to abandon your dog. In fact, pet abandonment is considered an act of animal cruelty and is therefore illegal in a number of states.

You are not giving your pet a happy life where they spend their days exploring and enjoying the outdoors. Abandoned dogs and cats live a hard life and are placed at risk of illness, disease or being attacked by other animals. There are also dangers such as being hit by a car or being harmed or killed by cruel humans. There’s no excuse for abandoning an animal, especially when there are other options available.

Being a Responsible Pet Guardian

For situations where you absolutely cannot keep your pet and are unable to find them a home, please surrender them to a shelter or rescue. Some people say they don’t want to bring their dog to a shelter, but is abandoning them really a better alternative? In a shelter, your dog will have food and a safe place to sleep until they can find a new home. If you abandon them, they will struggle to find food and shelter and will suffer in pain if they become sick or injured.

If you are struggling financially or are moving and unable to find housing that allows animals, ask for help. There’s a growing number of organizations that provide resources to help keep people and their pets together. These services include pet food pantries, free or reduced cost veterinary care, and assistance finding pet-friendly housing.

Dogs bring an incredible amount of joy into our lives, but it’s important to remember that pets are a long-term commitment. Puppies and adolescent dogs need training and exercise, and senior dogs require extra care and patience. Along with the joyful moments, there will also be bathroom accidents on the floor, chewed up shoes, and unexpected vet bills. Make sure you take everything into consideration and are prepared for the commitment before bringing a new pet into your home.

What to Do If You Find an Abandoned Animal

If you suspect a dog or other pet has been abandoned, call the police or your city’s animal control. Always be careful when approaching a dog you don’t know. Scared dogs may bite or run away from you out of fear, so the best thing to do is to stay at a safe distance until help arrives. If it will be a while until the police or animal control can get there, set out a bowl of water nearby in case the dog is dehydrated.

You can help AHeinz57 with their continued efforts to rescue the abandoned dogs by visiting their website to make a donation.

All images source: AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport/Facebook