Tiger and 360 dogs rescued
Cory de Vera
A Bengal tiger rescued from a dog-breeding facility near Seneca Thursday is emaciated, lame in its back legs and has fur in very poor condition, said Melinda Arnold, a spokesperson for Dickerson Park Zoo.
But Sheena — one of more than 350 animals seized from the facility was comfortable around rescuers when they approached, Arnold said . Zoo staffers were able to sedate Sheena for transport .
“She is in our quarantine now,” said Arnold. “That’s standard procedure with all our new animals … , to make sure they aren’t sick and spread something to other animals.”
The tiger, who is about 9 years old and is declawed, was taken along with a domestic cat and more than 360 dogs from J.B’s Precious Puppies by the Humane Society of Missouri and the Newton County Sheriff’s department, the Humane Society said in a news release.
Debbie Hill, the vice-president of operations for the Humane Society, said the sheriff’s department in Newton County received a tip about the facility from someone who went to purchase a dog there. The tipster was shown a dog that did not look well, and so the customer asked to see other dogs, and was refused. That made the person suspicious, said Hill.
The dogs will be taken to the Humane Society’s headquarters in St. Louis for triage. This rescue comes just days after the Humane Society took in 100 Yorkies from a breeding facility in Greene County.
Dogs rescued from the Seneca facility included small-breed dogs including chihuahuas, Boston terriers, miniature pinchers, Lhasa apsos, Pomeranians and Westies, according to the news release. There were also 25 to 30 large breeds including huskies, chow- chows and Shar Peis.
Many of the dogs are puppies, about four are pregnant and the long-haired breeds appear to have matted, overgrown hair, a news release said.
Task force staff reported that the animals’ wire-bottom cages were covered with feces and urine, there was no visible food and their water was frozen. A March 9 custody hearing has been scheduled to determine who should take care of the animals.
Public information indicates that the breeder has had previous violations, the Humane Society release said. In January 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture levied $10,000 worth of fines against the breeder for multiple violations within the Animal Welfare Act, the news release said.
In 2007, the state seized 150 dogs from the property and sold them at a private auction. The proceeds were given to the owner. No charges were filed at that time .
Thursday evening, when the number of animals seized that day was believed to be about 200, Hill said the Humane Society headquarters in St. Louis was a large enough facility to house the animals from the two rescues. But the group is also asking for help.
It was unclear whether the group can accommodate the total of more than 350 animals taken, in addition to the dogs from the Greene County raid.
“So far, we are able to cope. But we are calling all hands on deck to our volunteers who assist us,” she said.
At Dickerson Park Zoo, staff are giving Sheena food, water and antibiotics, and are waiting on results of blood tests.
Visitors to the zoo will not be able to visit Sheena, said Arnold. The plan is that sometime next week, she will be transferred to a cat sanctuary south of St. Louis.