A Lewisburg woman who has been hoarding dogs for years just lost her home and has been living without electricity and running water because she didn't want to just pack up and leave the animals to fend for themselves. But the dogs are not the only ones who needed rescuing.
Beyond the waist-high grass on 27 acres of land in Lewisburg lies a hidden problem. Nestled under shade trees are makeshift dog houses. The dogs are separated to keep them from mating.
"Most of these (dogs) were just about dead when they got here, and we've nursed them back to health," said dog owner Tammy Bowen.
Bowen is known to many in the area as "The Dog Lady" who couldn't say no to an animal in need. That was until now.
"I can't afford to keep taking care of them," Bowen said.
She had more than 60 dogs, many of which had been simply dropped off at her door step.
Now, about half of them have been rescued from Bowen's property by Big Fluffy Dog Rescue of Nashville, the Animal Rescue Assistance Team Tennessee and Rags to Riches Dog Rescue.
"People like this have big hearts. They want to help, but don't know how," said Teri Cox, with Animal Rescue Assistance Team Tennessee.
Many of the rescued dogs have flea and tick problems, mange and one requires surgery to repair a heart murmur.
Bowen has sold just about everything she has, including the lawn mower, refrigerator and any piece of scrap metal to help feed the animals. Often, rescuers said, the family feeds the dogs before themselves.
"They just told us they needed food and water for the dogs," Cox said. "They didn't tell us they needed food for themselves."
Bowen lives in the home with her son, Glenn Lankford, a veteran of the War in Iraq and a daughter-in-law. They don't have electricity and water since the well pump went out, and they've been catching rainwater to keep the dogs hydrated.
Bowen is out of work, and just lost her home. Her son is out-of-work, too, and couldn't help save it.
"There are a lot of people got it worse than me," Bowen said.
She said she just wanted to make sure her dogs found a good home, rather than ending up in a kill shelter.
"(It's) very difficult," Bowen said. "If it wasn't for them going somewhere good, it would be really bad. If they were going somewhere to be killed, I don't think I could handle that."
Bowen also had several other animals on the property, including a "zonkey," two potbelly pigs and several horses. She has already found homes for those animals.
Big Fluffy Dog Rescue made two trips to the property Tuesday, transporting the dogs to a boarding facility in Cookeville.
Some of the dogs were taken straight to a veterinarian's office for treatment, while the others will stay at the boarding facility until volunteers find permanent homes for them.
Bowen plans to move in with a friend in Chattanooga, and her son and daughter-in-law will be moving to a motel in Monteagle. If you would like to help the family get back on their feet, contact Animal Rescue Assistance Team Tennessee by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Wednesday, July 23 2014 1:37 PM EDT2014-07-23 17:37:11 GMT
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