By J. PATRICK PEPPER
DEARBORN — Life hasn’t been easy on the 106 Chihuhuas rescued from a filthy east side house last month, but things appear to be finally looking up for the neglected pooches.
On Thursday, six of the dogs were adopted to new, loving families after spending more than three weeks in the care of the Dearborn Animal Shelter. A sparkling grape juice toast accompanied the adoptions as the dogs’ new owners took time to speak with news media while shelter workers breathed a sigh of relief.
The adoptions mark the first steps toward finding all of the special needs dogs a permanent home, but the road has been daunting. The shelter has been issuing constant care to the animals since they arrived ailing, many of them covered in feces.
Of the afflictions the dogs exhibited at intake, shelter officials said:
• Half had “terrible” mouths, some with teeth falling out.
• One-quarter were too thin or emaciated.
• One-fifth had ear and eye infections
• Fifteen percent required antibiotics for skin diseases,
• Four have deformities.
One of the deformed dogs was among those adopted last week. Shelter workers had taken to calling the three-legged dog Hopalong Cassidy, but little Cassidy will now go by Som after Phuong Nguy of Royal Oak adopted him.
Nguy, who already owns one Chihuahua, said she knew she wanted one of the rescued dogs as soon as she saw the story on the news.
“I was already thinking that I wanted another one and this was just like a sign,” said Nguy, who added that “som” means “three” in Chinese.
Shelter workers will continue to sift through the more than 500 applications submitted to adopt one of the dogs in search of the perfect home for each. Shelter spokeswoman Sandy Boulton said prospective families must be patient, caring and attentive because of all the trauma the dogs have endured.
“We want to make sure that each family knows exactly what will go into this. These are special needs dogs who have gone through a lot, and they will require a lot of time and patience from their new owners,” Boulton said.
Meanwhile the criminal investigation remains open on Kenneth Lang Jr., the owner of the house where the dogs were living. Police Chief Ronald Haddad did not return calls seeking comment for this story, but his assistant, Nancy Hamood-Strutz, said the department still is waiting on autopsy results from two of the 150 dead Chihuahuas authorities found in freezers.
By J. PATRICK PEPPER