DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - More than 200 animals seized from a Celina no kill animal shelter earlier this month-- while living in conditions that officials called the worst they've ever seen-- are now clean, well fed and prepped for new lives. And it's taken a tremendous effort to make it happen.
"By the end of the day you're exhausted!" exclaimed volunteer Christy Howard. "You're dripping in sweat and tears and the dogs just need more than that and it takes an army to do it."
So an army responded—an army of Humane Society volunteers.
"It's taken about 130 people, 130 volunteers to come out and care for them properly," says Monica Ailey. Ailey, also a volunteer, has been coordinating the effort. She says volunteers have come from as far away as Oklahoma City and Kansas to help. And the animals have responded.
"They are wagging and happy when they see us and they know they're getting walks and they know they're getting love," says Ailey, "they're doing great."
Most of the animals have spent the past four weeks at a Humane Society facility in Crowley called 'Mesquite Flats'. The ranch is shaded and roomy with enough space for the animals to play—a far cry from their living conditions in Celina.
"They were living in crates, so they were living in feces and urine that were inches thick," Ailey said. The conditions were so bad authorities are looking into possible criminal charges.
Annette Lambert operated the animal rescue group, known as Animal Guardians of America. "She did it with good intentions," says Ailey. "But, cruelty is cruelty, no matter what her intentions were."
In the weeks since the seizure, volunteers have been hard at work feeding, walking and grooming the animals in preparation for adoption.
Volunteer Christy Howard, owner of Three Dog Bakery in Plano and Southlake, says she reached out to vendors and customers for help. "Our vendors … they donated toys and treats and our customers sent water and snacks and anything we asked for, we had the next day."
Now, the hard work is paying off. By week's end, volunteers hope many of the animals will be headed to permanent homes. An adoption extravaganza is planned for the weekend at five locations. Animals can be adopted for a $75 fee that includes spay/neuter services, microchip, immunizations, a veterinary exam and 30 days pet insurance.
"You know the conditions these animals were living in and you can look at them and just whisper in their ears and tell them their life is going to be so much better," Ailey said as tears filled her eyes.
"It's so worth it to see a dog touch grass for the first time, or play in the water for the first time, and be able to stretch their legs and not be in a kennel," says Howard. "If you can be a part of their forever story…even if it's a little part, it's so worth it."
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