Rescue called to help 150 dogs living with homeless family in desert

Rescue called to help 150 dogs living with homeless family in desert

Animal rescues often step in to take in pets when their owners are no longer capable of caring for them, but one recent rescue was an especially extreme, and surprising, case.

A homeless family was recently found caring for 150 dogs in a desert campground, and while the dogs were in surprisingly good condition, it was clear that everyone needed a helping hand.

Sky Sanctuary Rescue, based in Arizona, was contacted by the homeless family, and arrived at the desert compound. They found the 150 dogs in cages and homemade kennels, according to 3TV/CBS 5.

“Honestly, the whole situation was sad,” rescue founder Elli Smith told the news outlet. “Not just for the animals, but for the people, too.”

But while it was far from an ideal living situation for these dogs and the family was clearly overwhelmed, the rescuers found the dogs were, all things considered, well taken care of by the family.

“It was extremely surprising,” said sanctuary director Caitlin Beall. “When we arrived on scene, everybody was well-fed, everybody happy, everybody socialized. Typically, you have very scared animals, and that just wasn’t the case, and that was a testament to how much these people cared.”

The family had reportedly been caring for the dogs for nearly a year, and while they were seemingly doing all they could, the challenges were proving to be overwhelming. That many dogs is impossible for anyone to properly care for, and the family was also contending with hazardous elements.

In addition to the grueling desert heat — over 110 degrees, according to the rescue — they also had to protect the dogs from Arizona’s monsoons, and were “desperately trying to keep [the dogs] alive.”

“He was in during that monsoon with 160 animals with only a tarp to cuddle with them,” Beall told 12 News, recalling a video where the man shielded several dogs during the storm. “Truly, it was heartbreaking.” 

In the end, the homeless family did the right thing and contacted Sky Sanctuary Rescue, who began the huge task of getting the dozens of dogs to safety. It was more dogs than the rescue could handle as they were already at capacity, but they called on their supporters for donations and got to work.

Over the course of four days, they started taking in 55 dogs, prioritizing the “most medically fragile seniors.”

While the dogs were taken care of by the homeless family, some had medical concerns, though reportedly nothing that would prevent them from being adopted in the future.

According to 3TV/CBS 5, the rest of the dogs were picked up by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. They are now working to get them all vetted, place them in foster homes and find them new forver homes.

Thankfully, the homeless family will not face charges — in fact, they have reportedly gotten help themselves, and according to 3TV/CBS 5 have found a new place to live.

It was a sad situation, but now everyone involved is getting the help they need. Despite everything, the rescuers were moved by how much care the homeless family showed to their dogs, despite limited resources.

“We see people that neglect animals with all the resources in the world,” Smith said. “To see people with nothing taking such good care of these animals, it was really heartbreaking.”

But she said the real lesson here is to reach out when you’re overwhelmed, and to not let a situation like this get out of hand. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she told 12 News. “Don’t let it get to a crisis point.”

What a sad situation, but we’re glad these dogs are in good hands now and hopefully on their way to new homes.

And while this camp was not a good environment for these many dogs, it seems that this homeless family did what they could despite the extreme circumstances. We hope they are getting the help they need.

Consider donating to Sky Sanctuary Rescue to help support these dogs, and spread the word by sharing this story.