The 14 dogs seized from a Georgetown property by Delaware Animal Services officers over Thanksgiving are recovering from severe neglect.
Found either running loose or confined without access to food or water at 26468 Deep Branch Road, owned by 61-year-old Atwood Timmons, the dogs were taken in by the Brandywine Valley SPCA. Most were fearful of humans, many were emaciated and infested with fleas and some tested positive for heartworm. Four additional dogs found on the property that day had died.
Timmons is awaiting arraignment on four counts of cruelly or unnecessarily killing an animal and 14 counts of cruelty or neglect to animals. He did not respond to requests for comment.
The dogs are recovering at different rates, working with behavioral experts to put the past behind them. Most of them were named after Thanksgiving foods, and two – Yams and Biscuit - recovered and adjusted so quickly that they’ve already been adopted.
Soup, a three-year-old male, has adjusted well and is available for adoption at the BVSPCA in New Castle.
“Soup has made great strides socially,” said Walt Fenstermacher, BVSPCA Delaware director of operations. “He likes being petted and will eat right from your hand.”
Asparagus and Potato are in foster homes and the dogs are adjusting well to socialization. An animal rescue group has taken responsibility for Truffles.
The rest of the dogs continue to be housed and cared for by the BVSPCA and are being socialized by a behavioral team. Some, like 2-year-old Ham, are struggling to bounce back.
“Ham is still very nervous and doesn’t really want any human contact,” Fenstermacher said. “We believe he will come around in due time.”
The dogs’ plight pulled at the heartstrings of Sussex County residents. Many have donated toward their care. Several people and organizations have taken it upon themselves to organize fundraising campaigns.
Nicholas Lee, of Nicholas Lee Guitars in Rehoboth Beach, raffled off 14 custom guitars worth thousands of dollars. Many of the materials used to make the guitars were donated, by both local and national businesses.
Tara Lausch Photography of Rehoboth Beach offered pet photo sessions for 14 second-place winners. Lee raised over $16,000 on GoFundMe and announced the raffle winners on New Year’s Day.
The BVSPCA has raised almost $10,000 for the dogs using a special fundraiser, separate from their general fundraising campaign, at fundly.com.
Adam Lamb, BVSPCA chief executive officer, said when they were first rescued, “The suffering these dogs endured was unforgiveable, but their incredible resilience and ability to love will break through. While their journey to recovery will be long, they now have the support of a compassionate community.”
If you would like to foster or adopt one of the Thanksgiving dogs, or donate toward their care, visit BVSPCA.org.
If you are aware of animals being neglected or abused, contact Delaware Animal Services at 302-255-4646.