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Seized animals find refuge at Ritchie County shelter

Michele Stutler with the Ritchie Animal Humane Society gives Nathaniel some love. He was among the four dogs taken from an animal cruelty environment earlier this week. (Photo by Candice Black)

HARRISVILLE — With the help of humane officers, law enforcement and special friends from Pennsylvania, more than 80 animals found refuge this week after they were removed from poor living conditions.

More than 30 pigs, four dogs, several geese, ducks, chickens, a turkey and a racoon were removed from a residence in Auburn. The animals are now in foster homes, the humane society and a pig rescue.

Michele Stutler, board vice president for the Ritchie County Humane Society, said employees had to quickly figure out a way to house the fowl they saved from the property.

“We’ve adapted and done what we can. We have some outdoor dog shelters with roofs on them, they’ve got heat lamps in there. They could fly away if they wanted to, they don’t even try to leave the area,” Stutler said.

Several of the birds have approved applications and will go to their new homes soon.

The Ritchie County Humane Society with the help of the Ritchie County Sheriff’s Department seized more than 80 animals including chickens, geese and ducks. All of the animals are warm and happy as they await their new homes. (Photo by Candice Black)

“There was one very large turkey. It is in its new home, one of the deputies took it. There are people here in the community that actually have fowl at (their) farms. For the ducks and geese they have ponds. They will take good care of them and they will want them,” Stutler said.

The four dogs are in good shape other than being underfed and Stutler said people have already expressed interest in fostering or adopting them.

“It’s nothing a little bit of TLC and some dog food won’t take care of,” she said.

Through a friend, Stutler was able to get in touch with the Pigsburgh Squealers, a pig rescue in Pennsylvania that took the pigs into custody.

“They were more than willing to help,” Stutler said.

Several birds were taken from a home with poor living conditions and Michele Stutler with the Ritchie Humane Society said several residents are interested in adopting them. (Photo by Candice Black)

Blue Martin with the Pigsburgh Squealers said all of the pigs are doing well and one of them had babies shortly after arriving at the rescue.

“They named her Cassie, all of her babies are girls. She’s staying at the foster home of the home of the woman who helped seize all the pigs,” Martin said. “They’re doing super well. It’s honestly very surprising how thin mom was and still is. We were surprised she was even able to produce milk. You could tell she had been bred many, many times, it’s heartbreaking.”

Nikki Herner, the woman who was arrested and charged with animal cruelty, was breeding and selling teacup pigs. Martin said four other pigs had also been bred several times.

The Pigsburgh Squealers will work on spaying and neutering all of the pigs in the coming weeks. Martin said it’s very costly and it will take a while for all of the pigs to get their operations.

She started a fundraiser to help raise money for the surgeries and so far, over $6,000 has been donated with a goal of $10,000.

“I’m so thankful. The fact that Nikki got arrested and is being charged is appreciated. I can’t say enough about the sheriff and humane society for getting something done,” Martin said. “We’re trying to change the perception of pigs, we just hope people see just how deserving they are of care and protection that dogs and cats get as well.”

Stutler said the rescue could not have happened without the help of volunteers who assisted in catching the animals and the pig rescue for taking the pigs.

“It was a horrible situation all the way around. We could not be more appreciative of them,” she said. “We would have been in a world of hurt without them.”

Visit the Pigsburgh Squealers Facebook page to donate toward the pigs’ operations and the Ritchie County Humane Society Facebook page to donate for its animals.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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