Detroit rescue group seeks help for 6 infected puppies

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Throughout her years working to rescue dogs in Metro Detroit, Kristina Rinaldi has seen numerous pooches in tough spots — including some shot, stabbed or hideously injured.

But even she was taken aback by the state of the six, 12-week-old puppies turned over to her nonprofit this week: malnourished, hot to the touch, suffering infections and hairless from untreated demodectic mange.

“I’ve seen a lot of horrible things, but this is absolute neglect,” the Detroit Dog Rescue’s executive director said. “It is one of the worse cases that I’ve ever seen.”

Her group, which operates the first no-kill shelter in the city and works to rehabilitate as well as find homes for animals in need, is seeking donations to help the six canines Detroit Animal Control released this week.

The four females and two males — named Wilbur, Piglet, Petunia, Paisley, Charlotte and Pinky — all require extensive medical treatment; costs could top $6,000, Rinaldi said.

“We are looking at a very long time until these dogs are medically cleared,” she said Friday night. “This is going to take months to clear up, and then it could be months after that until the infection is gone.”

Details about the origins of the puppies — believed to be mixed-breed siblings — weren’t available.

A veterinarian determined that besides the mange, which could leave the dogs bald for months, and eye infections, “they have intestinal parasites, a secondary skin infection, they are completely emaciated — you can see every single one of their ribs,” Rinaldi said. “They are in pain and have a lot of scabs and it kind of hurts when you touch them. We’re dealing now with swollen limbs, severe calcium deficiency. ... It’s the saddest thing. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.”

News of what befell the litter sparked strong reactions on the DDR Facebook page.

“These poor babies my heart goes out to them and makes me so mad what people do to these poor animals that can’t speak for themselves god bless your group is there for them,” one user wrote.

Another posted simply: “I am praying so hard for their recovery.”

DDR has seen other instances of suspected neglect, cruelty or abandonment in the area recently — an estimated 30 cases so far this month alone, Rinaldi said. “Since the beginning of the year it’s been one dog after another.”

On Friday, the group rescued two female dogs and a kitten from a house on Detroit’s east side; a property management company said the tenant had left and the utilities were turned off last week, Rinaldi said.

Such cases are why DDR recently launched a program called “S.P.E.A.K. Up” to educate youngsters about proper dog care, Rinaldi said. The group is also calling for anti-tethering and spaying/neutering ordinances in the city.

“We have a lack of animal welfare education,” Rinaldi said. “Combine that with economic times and this is where you get these cases.”

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