LINCOLN, Maine — What a difference a few days of rest, a warm bath, gallons of water and a few heaping bowls of dog food have made for the seven dogs rescued from an Enfield home earlier this week in what state officials called one of the worst animal neglect cases they have seen.
Fresh from baths given to them since Thursday, the Labrador-mix dogs seem to be in good shape, and getting stronger, said Meg Crocker-Curtis, manager of the Penobscot Valley Humane Society’s shelter on Park Avenue.
“They are doing great,” Crocker-Curtis said Friday. “They allowed us to put leashes on them, they are not fear-biting anyone, and they are content. They sure look better, don’t they?”
Eight dead dogs were found and the others were rescued Tuesday from a home on Darlings Estate Road infested with feces and fleas and where at least one of the surviving dogs had eaten another that had died, Crocker-Curtis and state officials said.
Crocker-Curtis said Friday that she also suspects that at least one of three cats believed to have been at the home was eaten by the dogs.
Jonathan Peare, who lives at the house, was summoned for alleged animal cruelty. If found guilty, he could be fined as much as $2,000, serve a one-year prison sentence or be banned from owning animals, state officials have said. His age and court date remain unavailable.
Norma Worley, the state animal welfare director, said Wednesday she suspected that Peare simply let the situation get away from him.
Crocker-Curtis said Wednesday she knew that six dogs were rescued from the house and suspected that a seventh had been. That suspicion was proved Friday when a woman who had seen the dogs at the house came forward, she said.
The dogs’ smell was so bad that many visitors to the shelter couldn’t stand it for more than a few minutes at a time, and even Crocker-Curtis, who has worked there for 15 years, found it difficult. Shelter Assistant Manager Jared Curtis of Burlington, Crocker-Curtis’ 27-year-old son, washed the last two dogs Friday. That cleared the air nicely.
“They liked it. It was the first time they had ever seen [a bath], I think,” Curtis said of the dogs. “Only one of them wanted to get out of the tub during the washing and she didn’t fight very hard to do it.”
The dogs have dry skin, but that will be remedied with baths and food supplements, Curtis said.
Two male dogs that Crocker-Curtis has said would have to be euthanized have actually found a home and will be going there Tuesday, if they and the others pass examinations by Dr. Joseph Nesin of the Chester Animal Hospital on Monday, she said.
The prospective owners expressed a desire to care for the dogs, Crocker-Curtis said, despite the canines having severe demodectic mange, a disease caused by mites that leads to skin lesions, genetic disorders, problems with the immune system and hair loss.
The owners, whom Crocker-Curtis declined to identify, will pick up the dogs Tuesday. She said she was reluctant to sell the dogs for $200 — the typical price, which covers the dogs’ medical expenses — because the mange is recurrent and expensive to treat.
In automotive parlance, “it’s like selling somebody a lemon,” Curtis said.
Others have expressed a desire to take in the dogs, including puppies from two dogs believed to be pregnant, Crocker-Curtis said. People have donated about 600 pounds of dog food and at least $450 to the shelter, she said.
“People have been wonderful,” she said. “It just shows how good can come from bad.”