56 dogs rescued from house fire, conditions of dogs under invest - WSMV News 4

56 dogs rescued from house fire, conditions of dogs under investigation

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More than 50 dogs were rescued from a Clarksville house fire on Saturday.

Montgomery County Animal Control officers say the fire may have just been the beginning. An investigation is now underway into the conditions of the dogs.

"This is our overflow area right now. Our hallways serve as an additional shelter," said Jennifer Gustwiller of Montgomery County Animal Control, walking past cages of dogs. "It's a lot for our organization to take on. I can't imagine how any one person could care day in and day out for all of these animals."

Gustwiller said she has never encountered something like this; 56 dogs, mostly chihuahuas and dachshunds, taken from one house.

"It breaks my heart, it really does, there's no way to give them all the love and care they need, let alone all the medical care they need," Gustwiller said. "There's old breaks. We had a lot of issues with flees and flea allergies, heart murmurs, infections internally, untrimmed nails that are bleeding, puncture wounds from previous fights that have gone untreated. It's obvious at this point they were not being cared for to the extent that they need."

Saturday, Gustwiller said fire crews responded to a house on East Bel Air Avenue where the dogs were found inside along with several birds and fish killed during the course of the fire.

"There was a lot of debris everywhere," Gustwiller said. "You could smell urine through the smoke. There was feces around, dogs in all sorts of conditions in the back area. Five had to go for emergency medical care for the smoke, and that's when we started noticing some had previous existing conditions as well."

"All I wanted was to give them all I have and make sure they're okay, that's all I wanted," said the dogs' owner, asking her face not be shown on camera or name revealed.

The owner said this was an electrical fire that started in a back bedroom. She said the condition of the dogs and the house is a result of the fire and the dogs' panic. She added skin conditions are a recent reaction to a change in flea medicine and that she's a breeder planning to adopt out most of them by Christmas.

"I try," the owner said. "I have people who come back and get puppies from me. If they were disgusting or they didn't like what they see, they would've reported me a long time ago. I got on my hands and knees and mopped that floor to keep it sanitary. Why can't I see them and know they're OK? Why can't I bring them anything? I've offered."

The case still under investigation, Gustwiller said it's still being determined if any charges will be filed.

"It's obvious at this point they were not being cared for to the extent that they need," she said.

Animal control added there are four dogs still unaccounted. The owner said the door was open, and they may have run out. Animal control said there's no time line yet when any dogs might be available for foster or permanent homes.

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