Unusual-Looking Dog Saved from Hoarding

Special-needs senior adopted by rescue volunteer

dog saved from hoardingMashed Tater, or Tater for short, is a 10-year-old, longhaired mixed breed dog who is missing her front leg. She has no teeth, so her tongue hangs out. She’s unusual looking, for sure.

“But she’s so sweet,” said pet parent and rescue volunteer Deb Barnes.

Many people wouldn’t give Tater the time of day given her appearance. But she needed an angel, and Deb was it.

Grant enables nimble rescue

Tater was once hoarded in a house in Manchester, Tennessee, with 84 other dogs and 4 cats. Authorities call this case a hoarding situation though it had the appearance of a puppy mill — most of the dogs were small purebreds.

The Coffee County Sheriff’s Department asked Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) to get the pets safely out of the house. At the same time, ARC was working on a puppy mill rescue in Kankakee County, Illinois. PetSmart Charities® granted $20,650 in supplies to support the Illinois rescue. ARC hadn’t used all of the funds, so the group was able to accept the second rescue.

“I knew we could make it happen because we have a group of compassionate volunteers in Tennessee, and we had the PetSmart Charities grant,” said ARC president and founder Scotlund Haisley.

The team immediately headed 12 hours south to Coffee County, Tennessee.

dog saved from hoarding cleaned upRescued dogs sniff the sunshine

Like many abuse cases, this one happened in an unsuspecting community. A farmhouse sat on several acres of land along on a beautiful, rural road.

“From the outside you couldn’t [imagine] the suffering that was inside,” Scotlund said.

Cages were stacked from the floor to the ceiling. They were so dirty it appeared they had never been cleaned since the pets were put in the cages.

There were a few dead dogs among the living, though Scotlund said he wouldn’t consider any of them as “living.”

“They were all statues. There was no barking when we came in, and there was no hope in their eyes,” he said.

But better times started that day for the dogs and cats.

Rescuers recall watching the dogs point their noses to the sunshine as they were carried out of the house. “I haven’t seen anything like it. To watch them embrace the sunshine and fresh air was something else,” Scotlund said.

Love blossoms at rescue shelter 

Once all the dogs were removed safely, they were taken to a temporary shelter in Lebanon, Tennessee, where veterinarians examined them and volunteers cleaned and cared for them.

At that temporary shelter, Deb was working her fourth emergency rescue as an ARC volunteer.

“It’s overwhelming every time you see pets in these conditions. I can’t look at the photos and videos of abuse on Facebook, but when I volunteer, I shift into a ‘take care of business mode,’” Deb said. “It can be overwhelming, but I go one kennel at a time and do whatever I need to do to make it better.”

When Deb got to Tater’s cage, she knew she’d found someone special, though Tater could barely stand. “Her tail would do this weak wag, and she would try to get to the front of the cage. You could tell she was very sweet,” said Deb.

Special senior gets her forever home

Deb is used to falling for the dogs she meets while volunteering, but she already had 2 pugs and a beagle at home. “My husband is the voice of reason when it comes to taking in dogs. He’s always drawn the line at 3,” she said.

Sometimes, Deb would foster dogs because she could convince her husband Nick that she was only helping the dogs find their forever homes.

When she mentioned Tater, she intended only to foster the senior dog, but Nick had a different idea.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you bring that little dog home to give her a good home for whatever time she has left?’ I almost ran out the door right then to get her right away,” Deb said.

Deb first became Tater’s foster parent. She couldn’t legally adopt Tater right away due to a pending court case, but a week later Deb signed the official adoption papers.

dog saved from hoarding cleaned upFour dogs make a happy home

Tater joined the Barnes family with their son Huey, pugs Rocky and Bette Davis, and a beagle named Beaglejuice.

Tater didn’t want to share her new mom with the other dogs at first, and often declined Bette’s play requests.

“Bette had to learn that Tater is an old lady and can’t always play,” Deb said.

Tater quickly warmed up to the other dogs, though she’s still cautious when her new siblings are roughhousing. Once they’re all asleep, she loves to cuddle with Beaglejuice.

She also won over Nick’s heart. “My husband has fallen head over heels for Tater. He says she’s the lowest-maintenance dog we have. All she wants is for you to hold her and she’s happy,” said Deb.

Nick is a reporter at a local television station in Nashville, and he posts many updates about Tater on his social media pages. The local news covered the hoarding case, so the community was happy to see his positive updates.

With Tater’s personality shining in her new home, Deb said she couldn’t be happier with her new, 3-legged angel. “She’s so full of love. It’s wonderful to see.”


Photo credit: Aimee Stubbs


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