This past summer, in Tomball, TX, bankruptcy fillings for an optometrist, Dr. Elaine Kmiec, indicated she had a large number of collies on her acreage. She claimed to have only 35. Attorneys for Houston Collie Rescue petitioned the court to seize the dogs.
When the rescuers arrived on August 29, they found 110 collies (one with 13 new puppies) in deplorable conditions. It took the group nine and a half hours to round up all the roaming dogs.
Thanks to Houston Collie Rescue and their makeshift “Camp Collie,” and our local rescue group, Southland Collie Rescue (SCR), four of the collies may soon be available for adoption locally.
The SoCal-based SCR, a nonprofit organization, sent two volunteers to Houston to help. Mitch Telson and Shauna Hoffman knew they had foster homes locally for only four collies, as these dogs would be very different from a typical rescue from previous homes or shelters.
None of the dogs would be house-broken or fixed, most would have skin issues, some would have vision or eye problems, all would need to fattened up on special diets. And based on their living conditions, they were described as “snarky” temperament — short-tempered and snappy — unlike well-socialized collies.
The SCR’s only requirement is that the dogs be heartworm negative. Houston Collie Rescue chose which four collies would come to California, knowing they would have to travel for four days, stay in motels, and be able to be on a leash.
On September 24, the four dogs arrived at SCR’s Collie Haven in Riverside, where they were met by three of their four foster families. The fourth dog will be kept there temporarily, until she’s out of heat.
Kathlene Myron of Rancho Santa Fe is currently fostering Zeus, originally thought to be a two- to four-year-old. But the local vet, Dr. Gee, who performed the neutering last week, says he’s closer to five or six.
Now renamed Sheldin (name changes are common with rescue dogs), the dog was very skittish and roamed around barking when I arrived for a visit. Only after several minutes did Sheldin calm down and allow me to pet him. This is typical behavior for dogs rescued from horrible conditions. After finally accepting me, Sheldin then retreated, needing space and to be left alone for awhile. “He’s processing everything,” said Myron. Also typical behavior from a rescued dog.
Myron walks him three times a day to help build muscle strength. She feeds him small quantities, often, to allow him to get used to healthy food and good digestion.
“The first night, he slept right next to me,” said Myron. She learned that was a mistake, seeing the effects all over her bedroom of not being housebroken. Sheldin will need special training over the next several months.
The other three rescued dogs — Venus, Apollo, and Cupid — are being fostered elsewhere in SoCal.
Sue Baldwin, director for the SCR said, “We are in constant contact with the foster homes concerning their health issues. One has already been to emergency care. Stress seems to be the cause of most of their problems so far.
“Two of the four dogs will probably be adopted by the foster families. These dogs are unique and need appropriate dog-savvy collie owners. They are all wonderful dogs that just came from despicable conditions. Some are shut down: they have had to fight for food and space. They have not seen the world and are startled by sudden noises. We are going slowly with their socialization,” Baldwin added.
The Houston organization is trying to place as many dogs in the Texas area before seeking out-of-the-area rescue groups. SCR was welcomed because volunteer Telson had worked with them before, and they knew the dogs would be driven, not flown, to SoCal and well cared for. Houston Collie Rescue does not want the rescued dogs to fly for fear of possible death due to stress.
SCR is looking for donations to help cover the $4000 cost of bringing the four dogs west. Adoption information will posted on the group’s website in a few months — collie.org. The group’s San Diego volunteer, Linda Kratz, can be contacted at [email protected]