THERMAL, Calif. - Over 40 dogs were rescued Thursday from the condemned trailer park commonly known as Duroville, but Riverside County Animal Services said there are hundreds more. Thursday started what will be months of rounding up these stray and abandoned dogs.
Ariana Gomez, a resident, says, "I think that it is sad seeing them without owners."
Within moments of arriving, you see dogs wandering the muddy streets.
"You can see the sadness in their face. It's ridiculous the things that people have done here," said Refugio Montanez, who is helping clean up the trailer park.
Many families have already left this condemned trailer park for new county housing, but people told us there wasn't enough room for many of their pets.
"They were saying you could only take one or two down to where they moved," said Montanez.
Many animals were left behind to fend for themselves.
"You will drive by the trailers and here is the dogs laying by the fences and they think that their owners are going to come home and they aren't," said Haley Montanez.
These dogs join the hundreds of strays in the area, none of them fixed.
"Unaltered pets do what unaltered pets do, they make love and make puppies.," said John Welsh, spokesman for Riverside County Animal Services.
These are puppies that can grow into aggressive dogs.
"They have over taken trailers, they lived underneath the trailers while their owners were still here, there has been a few biting in the last couple of weeks that I know of," said Montanez.
Ariana Gomez moved here nine years ago, and she said the dogs are a problem
"They go through all of the trash cans and get into the garbage and leave a mess," said Gomez.
"Anytime you have that many animals and if they start to roam in packs you are going to always run into problems of public safety where children can get hurt," said Welsh.
Now that the federal government has stepped in to tear down the trailer park, Riverside County Animal Services can now come in and help these animals.
"The ultimate goal is to find homes for all of these dogs that have been living in the desert,"said Welsh.
But it is going to take time. "This is going to probably be week upon week if not months, maybe 3 to 6 month project and this is just one little nugget the rest of the eastern part of the county will be tackled later on down the road," said Welsh.
Not all of the dogs are abandoned or strays; some have owners. Animal Services wants to make sure that they don't round up those dogs, and that is why they provided them with a special blue collar for identification.
Later down the road, Animal services said they will spay and neuter those dogs for free.
"We don't have a dollar sign yet. This is going to cost a lot of money, but taxpayer money is not being used for this. Our director is going to find some sources of grant funding," said Welsh.
One estimate is there could be nearly 700 dogs in that area. Riverside County Animal Services said they want to find homes for all of them.
After they are rounded up, they will be fixed. Once the dogs are healthy, they will be put up for adoption at shelters all over southern California.
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