Last week, emergency medical crews responding to a E-911 call from an elderly woman reporting her companion had died, discovered the couple had a remarkable secret.

In fact, the couple had 19 secrets.

Rescue crews were shocked to find the couple, had just under 20 beagles ranging in age from 8 months old to 8 years old all living inside the house on Sokokis Avenue in Limington.

“It was something,” said Standish Animal Control Officer Jack Freitas, who assisted Limington firefighters in the rescue. “I have never seen anything like it. Most of the dogs had never been outside.” Frietas added that one of the beagles was days away from giving birth.

The inside of the house was covered in dog excrement presenting serious health concerns for the rescuers.

Rescuers had to wear special equipment including oxygen masks. It took Freitas and others hours to remove all the dogs from the home. Although filthy, the dogs were very “lovable.”

“Most of the dogs were very friendly, the puppies just cuddled right up to you,” said Limington Code Enforcement Officer Ron Phinney. “There were only a few that we had to force to leave. None of the dogs tried to bite or become aggressive with anyone. They are all very people friendly; they were just scared.”

For the dogs that had never been outside the sunlight was very painful for them but according to Freitas the condition can be treated with eye drops.

“These dogs are very friendly,” said Freitas. “Once their medical problems are taken care of, they are going to be great happy dogs.”

So far all of the dogs have tested negative for Parvovirus, a disease commonly caused when dogs are living in unsanitary conditions as they were in this case. The concern now is to nurse the malnourished dogs back to health and treat food aggression behavior that some of them suffer from.

“It is common in this type of situation for dogs to have food aggression,” said Susan Britt, director of operations for the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook, where seven of the 19 dogs are being rehabilitated. “We will put them through our food program to take care of that problem.”

Neither Britt nor Freitas believe this was a case of neglect or intentional abuse.

“This was not done in malice,” said Freitas. “It was just an elderly couple with a few dogs, and things just got out of hand.

Britt agrees.

“People don’t mean to do this, it just becomes too much for them to handle.”

The Beagles of New England States, a nonprofit organization devoted to rescuing beagles, have taken in the 12 dogs not treated at the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook.

Both the organizations depend on outside donations to take care of rescued animals.

Treatment for each dog could cost as much as $250, according to officials at Beagles of New England States. The organizxation will also need to pay potential foster parents for room and board expenses.

For more information on the Animal Refuge League of Maine or Beagles of New England States please visit www.arlgp.org, or www.bonesbeagles.org.

Community Steps up

After watching a piece about the dogs on the local news over the weekend, employees at Time Warner Cable in Portland could talk of little else on Monday.

“Everyone was talking about it,” said Senior Communications Director Peter Dewitt. “We all felt so bad and we wanted to help not only the dogs, but the Animal Refuge League as well.”

Dewitt told employees they would collect donations until lunch when they would then go to PETCO to buy supplies for the shelter. Time Warner also matched the employee’s donations resulting in a $750 cash donation as well as $650 worth of supplies.

“The Animal Refuge League works hard to help animals like these all the time,” said Dewitt. “We wanted to do our part to help.”

On Monday afternoon, Dewitt along with coworker Lisa Simonds, delivered the goods to to the Westbrook shelter.

The dogs should be ready for adoption in about two weeks but right now they are just enjoying their temporary home.

“They are certainly, right now enjoying being warm and being fed,” said Britt. “They’re the quietest bunch of beagles we have ever had.”

For more information on the Animal Refuge League of Maine or Beagles of New England States please visit www.arlgp.org, or www.bonesbeagles.org.

Called to this Sokokis Avenue home in Limington because fo the death of Ivory Goodwin, emergency crews also found 19 beagles living inside.


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