Nearly 200 dogs rescued from an abandoned home in the desert northeast of Los Angeles were available for adoption Monday after weeks of care from animal shelter workers and an unsuccessful search for the owner.
The 191 dogs were brought to the San Bernardino County Animal Shelter in Devore Feb. 6 after they were discovered in what authorities described as deplorable conditions at the abandoned home in Lucerne Valley, located in the Mojave Desert of western San Bernardino County.
The dogs were living on an isolated property, accessible only by passing through rugged terrain, with no water or electricity service. Some were sitting in urine and feces, many were starving and had matted fur that required grooming.
The homeowner has not been identified, allowing them to be placed in new homes. Animal services officials said they have had overwhelming interest from people who want to adopt the dogs.
"They are all getting wonderful homes," said Orange County resident Jill Hageman. "They've been in the shelter, today is the day they start their new lives."
Some of the dogs were transferred to shelters in Upland, Rancho Cucamonga and Pomona, all of which have spay and neuter services. Breeds included gold retrievers, Weimaraners, cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers, poodles and others.
A line of potential new owners, including a woman from Oregon, lined up outside the Devore shelter before about 150 of the dogs were available for adoption at 10 a.m. Monday. Those interested received a numbered chip for the dog they want as part of a lottery system.
"Today is a happy day," said Doug Smith, supervising animal control officer. "When they first came in, it was like, 'Oh my, that's a lot of animals.'"
"That's more than our shelter has ever taken in the past. To have this many get adopted at once is truly tremendous."
Tammie Hill won a Yorkie, but gave it away during the raffle to a crying girl whose dog recently died.
"All little kids who have earned the right to have a dog should have one," she said.
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Little Savannah Briano said she was thrilled at Hill's gift.
"He's going to make me so happy again."
The adoptions will likely continue for two or three days.
Upland Animal Shelter: 909-931-4185
Rancho Cucamonga Animal Shelter: 909-466-7387
Inland Valley Humane Society & SPCA 909-623-9777
San Bernardino County Devore Animal Shelter: 909-386-9820