UPPER MAHANTONGO TOWNSHIP — “It was awful, one of the worst we’ve ever seen,” is how Holly Kowalishen described a home outside of Hegins where almost 50 severely neglected animals were found Wednesday.
Kowalinshen, assistant dog manager at the Hillside SPCA, said they were tipped off by a neighbor near 1488 Ridge Road after she found a dead dog in a stream while doing work near her property. She said she believed there could be up to 20 animals in the home, but Kowalishen said they weren’t prepared for what they encountered.
“Feces and urine on everything, dogs running loose, missing fur,” she said, noting all three floors, including the basement, were covered in feces.
The home had no electricity and cell phone flashlights were used to help locate animals within the home.
The dogs in the home never saw the light of day and were traumatized as soon as they walked out of the house. Attempting to gather them up was difficult because they were so scared, Kowalishen said.
Outside the scene was just as bad where bones of dogs were located in barrels and under black tarp being used as compost. The head of one corpse was separated from the body, she said.
Six dogs were living outside in chains, others in a tiny kennel area completely covered in feces. Kowalishen said the dogs were so thrilled to see humans they were jumping all over them.
In addition to cats and dogs, many golden retrievers and lab goldens, donkeys and two goats were found, one goat was deceased. The goat and donkeys, whose hooves are curled upward, are being taken care of at an undisclosed location.
Vincent Weist was reported to be the owner of the home, and neighbors reported seeing him in the area, according to Kowalishen. Those with information on his whereabouts can call Schuylkill Haven State Police at 570-593-2000.
It took approximately two to three hours before they had a headcount and felt comfortable leaving. The count when leaving the home was 30 dogs, six cats, five donkeys and a goat.
The shelter was already at full capacity before rescuing the animals with 47 large dogs and 10 small dogs and have done their best to house them. Right now the majority are running around and loving life, she said. They’ve all been bathed of the “horrendous stench” they came in with.
Much of Thursday was spent transporting the dogs to veterinary appointments, but Kowalishen said finding vets appointed for the large number of animals has not been easy.
Since the news broke, they’ve had donations dropped off at the shelter and a number of people volunteering to walk the dogs, which she said is greatly needed. Any volunteers to walk dogs is greatly needed as they are beyond capacity.
“It’s just a very bad time right now for such an incident to occur, but we are doing what we have to,” Kowalishen said. “We’re here to be their voice and make them healthy and happy.”
Because the animals don’t legally belong to the shelter, they are unable to be adopted out right now. Kowalishen said once the dogs are signed over to them, they will be spayed and neutered before being put up for adoption. She said keep checking www.hillsidespca.com for updates.
Kowalishen stresses if anyone has suspicion that something is wrong regarding animals, contact law enforcement and local animal shelters.