The final two of the nine shar pei dogs that had been dumped along the Muscatatuck River bottoms south of Seymour have been found.
One was located Sunday near a church along U.S. 31 south of the city, while the other one was found Wednesday night sleeping in a barn at a house near the Lake Leslie subdivision south of Seymour, which is about six miles away from where the dogs were dumped a few weeks ago.
Both dogs were trapped and taken to Red Sky Rescue, a nonprofit dog shelter in Medora. Five of the dogs are now at the shelter, while the other four were taken to no-kill shelters in Indiana and Wisconsin.
“We are thrilled and exhausted. We just want to get things back to normal,” said Ruth Riley, owner of Red Sky Rescue. “We hope that people will not (dump dogs in the middle of nowhere). Please just call us and say, ‘We need help’ because this is so hard on the dogs.”
Riley said she suspects someone from outside the county was running a backyard breeder operation and decided to dump the nine dogs in the secluded, densely wooded area near the river.
Mark Deaton, dog control officer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, was able to trap three of them.
Gary and Karen McDonald, who live near the area, allowed Riley to place traps on their property, and Kelly Bishop of Seymour and her son, Patrick, volunteered to bait the traps with food. That resulted in four more dogs being trapped.
The other two dogs had been spotted separately this past weekend, one near Swifty Farms along U.S. 31 and the other in someone’s swimming pool. The traps were moved closer to where the dogs had been seen.
On Sunday, one of them was found circling a trash container near the church. A trap was set with food inside, the dog went into it and the McDonalds took him to Red Sky.
“He was smaller than the other dogs but seemed younger,” Riley said. “He was not real happy about the whole event. But now, he’s wagging his tail when we approach him. He wasn’t in terrible condition, no wounds or anything like that, just very hungry.”
When the other dog was found, it was in very poor condition. Earlier this week, a video had been posted online showing the dog with a swollen face. Gary McDonald told Riley he had seen a couple of the dogs fighting over food a few weeks ago, and this one must have been involved.
When it arrived at Red Sky on Thursday, Riley said no swelling remained, but it was weak, underweight and dehydrated.
Thom Hayes found the dog in his barn Wednesday night and gave it food and water. On Thursday morning, he called Riley, and she contacted the McDonalds to take a trap to the barn.
Hayes said he didn’t know about the missing dogs until he found information about them on Red Sky’s Facebook page.
“The dog was in bad shape,” Hayes said. “If my blue heeler, Bowser, hadn’t let me know he was out there, I’m not sure the dog wouldn’t have laid down and died in the barn. I’m glad he’s safe now along with the others.”
Riley said she didn’t think the dog would have managed to survive much longer. In a weak state, it would have been very vulnerable to predators, she said.
“That dog could have picked any barn anywhere, and I’m so happy he ended up with Thom because he’s a dog lover, and he got in touch with the right people,” she said.
On Thursday night, the dog had a big dinner of cooked hamburger with rice and peas and was drinking water.
“And he’s got a big, fluffy blanket,” Riley said.
Riley now has four males and a female at her shelter. The female was very thin and had an injured leg when it was rescued, and Riley said someone has offered to pay a veterinarian to fix the dog’s leg.
She’s now working with Shar Pei rescue facilities to help find them a proper home.
“The community has just been awesome,” she said.
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Red Sky Rescue, 8305 W. County Road 150N, Medora, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers a safe haven to stray and abandoned dogs in Jackson County, providing food, shelter and medical care.
Owner Ruth Riley explores every resource in finding new, loving families for the homeless pets who have found their way to the shelter.
To rescue a dog, donate items or volunteer at the shelter, call 812-216-6310 or email [email protected]. Information also can be found at redskyrescue.org.