Donations helping Humane Society handle surge

Items donated for the scores of dogs rescued last week quickly filled the reception area at the Humane Society and kept coming.

They easily stocked a storage shed and were shared with nearby humane societies, especially those who are caring for some of the 310 canines, mostly Pomeranians, taken from a home in Eden where they had been kept in deplorable conditions in the 5000 block of Cooper Road in Eden.

Aaron Balsamo, executive director of the Humane Society, issued a news release thanking the public – known for unconditional generosity in time of need – but asking that no more supplies be delivered.

Early this week, a spokeswoman at the Humane Society said anybody who still wants to help can mail a check for surgeries the dogs might need, including spaying and neutering, to Wicomico County Humane Society, 5130 Citation Road, Salisbury, Md. 21804.

Most of the dogs are doing pretty well, she said, although one died last weekend.

Lt. Tim Robison of the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, who was at the home in Eden when the dogs were rescued, asked that anybody who purchased or obtained a Pomeranian from the home contact the Sheriff’s Office at 410-548-4891.

Neither the sheriff nor the State’s Attorney’s Office would confirm the names of the husband and wife who were running the puppy mill. The names Susan and Robert Murphy have been circulating in the community and tax records list them as the property owners.

The Murphys had been charged with animal neglect before, but were acquitted.

State’s Attorney Matthew Maciarello, though, said this case is not being taken lightly.

“It’s all hands on deck,” he said, adding the penalty for animal abuse is 90 days in jail for each animal. There’s also a fine of up to $1,000 per animal.

Maciarello has heard puppy mill stories from across the country but said he never saw anything like this in Wicomico County, where it drew national attention.

This week, speaking before the Wicomico County Council, he said some of the dogs had been sitting in their feces for over a year, so that the feces had calcified and was difficult to remove.

He praised the community and Humane Society staff for their dedication.

“Every day at the humane society the parking lot has been packed, not only for these dogs but to do the work they have to do anyway. We have a very large humane society even without this crisis. I think one of the silver linings is the awareness of these citizens and what they do every day and how lucky we are to have this Humane Society,” Maciarello said.

“People feel very strongly about the rights and care of animals,” he told the Salisbury Independent.

“We knew that. We took this seriously from the first time this was discovered … we are very much on top of things. The health and well-being of the dogs come first, then we have to make sure we have as much evidence as we can get to make charges,” he said.

The investigation is detailed and methodical, he said, and there’s a file for each of the dogs with photographs and reports after veterinary exams.

There was local attention, too, before the dogs were removed by Humane Society personnel and Sheriff’s Office officials.

Some neighbors say they had complained for years, after hearing barking, but Robinson told the Salisbury Independent he has no record of authorities responding before.

Meantime, the community continues to help. On Saturday, May 14, the humane society will have its annual Walk for Paws.

Coastal Association of REALTORS sponsored a charity corn hole tournament on Wednesday this week at Hopper’s Tap House.

CAR and partner offices have been  collecting supplies this week. Through Thursday they can be taken to CAR at 314 Franklin Avenue, Berlin; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty, Stephen Decatur Highway, Ocean City; Coldwell Banker Residential, 104th Street, Ocean City; Coldwell Banker Residential, 120th Street, Ocean City; EXIT Realty at the Beach, 11002 Manklin Meadows Lane, Berlin; Shamrock Realty Group, 11049 Racetrack Road, Ocean Pines;

Coldwell Banker Residential, 1131 South Salisbury Boulevard; ERA Martin Associates, 1000 E. Main Street; Long & Foster Real Estate, 1405 S. Salisbury Boulevard; Re/Max Crossroads, 1400 S. Salisbury Boulevard; and Nelsons Real Estate, 11769 Somerset Avenue, Princess Anne.

Balsamo is assuring the public the dogs “continue to receive medical evaluations and care from the staff and veterinarians.”

“In time, they will be available for adoption, but each dog must be examined, vaccinated, groomed, microchipped, and spayed or neutered before adoption is possible,” he said.

“Workers are clipping away at the thick matting on their fur that certainly caused them misery.”


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