A New Kensington cat shelter rescued 30 severely neglected farm animals including donkeys, goats, sheep and rabbits at a residence in Harmony, Butler County.
The animals were emaciated when they were rescued on Saturday, according to Dr. Becky Morrow, founder and veterinarian with Frankie’s Friends Cat Rescue in New Kensington
The hoofs of the donkeys had grown so long that they curled multiple times and it was painful for them to walk, according to Morrow. The sheep had gone unshorn, their fleece matted and caked with urine, feces and ice, she said.
The animals — 11 sheep, 10 rabbits, six donkeys, and three goats — are expected to make a full recovery, but it will take several months to rehabilitate and to spay and neuter them, shelter officials said.
Many of the animals were taken to Hog Heaven Rescue Farm in Cochranton, Crawford County; the goats are being cared for at Animal Friends Sanctuary in Unity Township. Dr. Morrow is holding one of the rabbits that needs surgery.
The shelters are looking for donations to pay for the care and medical needs of the animals.
Morrow declined to release the name of the animal owner because the woman cooperated with releasing the animals.
“She had ill family members and had difficulty managing the animals,” Morrow said.
Debbie Urmann, a Humane Society police officer who investigates animal cruelty and neglect in Butler and Westmoreland counties received a complaint and visited the Harmony home on Jan. 12 and gave the owner two weeks to make mandatory corrections, she said.
Urmann then negotiated the surrender of the animals without having to secure a warrant, according to Morrow.
Saturday’s rescue was conducted by a team of 15 people from Frankie’s Friends, Hog Heaven, the Butler County Animal Response Team, Lancaster Township police and others.
As of Wednesday, charges were pending for animal cruelty and neglect, according to Urmann.
“This has been going on for 12 to 13 years,” she said. “The animals are thin, there’s lack of shelter, veterinary care – lack of farrier (hoof) care for the hoofed animals and lack of sheep being shorn,” she said.
Specifically, the shelter for the sheep was not large enough and some were in a chicken coop with all four sides open where the animals could not be shielded from the wind and rain, according to Urmann.
The hoofs are so long on the donkeys that one female’s had hooves with three curls.
“My farrier has never seen a donkey’s hooves with three curls,” said Regina Martin, a retired Pittsburgh Police officer who founded Hog Heaven Rescue Farm. The goats need hoof work as well.
The rabbits were in a coop with layers of feces and straw piled so high that the rabbits were only about seven inches from the top of the shelter, according to Urmann. Also there was not a box in the hutch for the rabbits to escape the elements, she added.
For the rescue, the sheep had not been socialized and were frightened; the donkeys were not hard to handle but it was painful for them to walk, according to Urmann.
Martin has started to clip the sheep’s fleece on the animals’ hind quarters, which is urine soaked and frozen.
The shearing of the sheep is a medical issue, Martin said. “One has rain rot on her back and there’s a green mold on their fleece,” she said. Matting causes the wool to pull at the animal’s skin.
All of the animals are thin, according to Martin. “It will take about two months to get back up to good health. You can’t bulk them up too quick.”
The shelters are collecting donations to help with the rehabilitation of the animals. The public will be notified when the animals are ready for adoption.
To donate for the care of the rescued animals in Harmony:
Frankie’s Friends Cat Rescue , 421 Ninth St., New Kensington, Pa., 15068, checks should be marked “Butler animals,” or via Frankie’s Friends Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FrankiesFriendsCatRescue/
Hog Heaven Rescue Farm , 2681 Mallory Rd., Cochranton, Pa., 16314, and their Facebook page, which also has link to a Go-Fund-Me account: https://www.facebook.com/groups/www.hogheavenrescue.org/
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.