PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - After receiving numerous complaints since April of a foul smell, constant barking, and injured dogs living at a Palm Springs home, Palm Springs Police and Animal Control officers served a search warrant at the home on Tramview Road on Tuesday morning.
"The house was very typical to hoarding. It was boarded up, windows were boarded up, doors were boarded up, meaning something is in there and they don't want the world to know what's going on inside," said Animal Rescue Corps President Scotlund Haisley.
Inside the house was a heavy stench, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, 13 dogs and their owner. The Animal Rescue Corps, a nonprofit animal protection organization, stepped in to help officers who discovered most of the dogs covered with bite marks, scars and fresh wounds.
"Because you have a large number of dogs in a small area, pack mentality, lots of anxiety, they're fighting over food, they're fighting over space, territory. They're ripping each other apart," said Haisley.
The owner of the dogs voluntarily surrendered the 13 canines at the home, plus two that were being treated at a local veterinarian's office.
"The property owner was very cooperative. He had good intentions but I think he clearly got in over his head and wanted the right thing for these animals," said Haisley.
The ARC transported the 15 Labrador and shepherd-mixed pups to the Palm Springs Animal Shelter where they set up an emergency rescue shelter.
They are the same furry faces we met in August, when their owner, Richard Rutgard contacted us after he was cited for having too many four-legged friends at his home.
Rutgard blamed the Palm Springs Animal Shelter where he adopted his dog King Kong two years ago, who he was told was neutered.
However, when Rutgard brought King Kong home to live with him and his dogs Daisy and Ginger, one thing led to another and the number of dogs multiplied.
The dogs are now out of his hands and in those of experts, receiving medical examinations and the much help they've needed.
"Our vet teams are assessing every injury and illness and putting them on a treatment plan," said Haisley.
Now, Animal Rescue Corps hopes to find each of them a safe and sanitary home to live. Their daily care and medical needs will be met by ARC staff and volunteers until they can be assessed for placement and transported to ARC shelter and rescue partners in Canada and across North America.
"What we see is very difficult, but imagine how rewarding it is to reach into those cages, and break those chains, and look into the eyes of these animals and make them the promise that their suffering has ended forever. It's incredibly rewarding," said Haisley.
The nonprofit ARC says rescues like this one cost about $25,000 to perform.
The Palm Springs Police Department is in the works of filing of an animal cruelty charge against Rutgard with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.