COLUMBIA, Tenn. - In November, four starving dogs were found tied to a tree on the brink of death. Two months later these animals have yet another hurdle to overcome: time.
The four American Shepherd Bulldogs were all set to go to a rescue organization but on Christmas Eve, the plan fell through. They have already been at the shelter longer than most dogs, and rescuers are pleading for an organization to step up and help soon to give them a second chance after a abuse, starvation and neglect.
"I was physically ill when I saw their intake pictures, when I saw the condition they were in when they came to the shelter," said Sonja Rine with Pet Pals of Maury County Organization.
Pictures show the four dogs emaciated, starved and clearly desperate for help.
"They were vomiting rocks and twigs because that is all they had eaten and they were all attached to one tree," said Councilwoman Debbie Matthews, who is trying to help them find a home.
An animal control officer spotted the dogs tied to a tree in their owner's backyard last November. Court documents show Cesare Holt told the officer they hadn't been fed "a couple of days."
A judge ordered Holt to give the dogs up and give the shelter $100 in dog food. Officials said Holt has yet to do his part, but the Columbia community has stepped up in his place.
"What a little love can do it's an amazing thing. Food, water and love," said Matthews.
But now these dogs, at just a year old, have to overcome another hurdle. Their plans to head to a rescue group fell through. And a shelter can only keep them for so long.
"We have done all we can do, the dogs are heartworm positive, they can't be adopted to a family- they have to go a rescue," said Rine.
It's a final plea for animals that have overcome abuse, neglect and starvation.
"They have tried so hard, they have such a will to live, they forgive. They don't hold a grudge," said Rine.
Having seen the worst in human nature, these rescuers are hoping they will now see the best before it's too late.
"It's gonna happen, it's just gonna happen they deserve it," said Rine.
Because the dogs have heartworms and a few other health issues that need to be addressed before they can be adopted into a forever home, they must first go to a no kill rescue organization. Transporting them out of state with all of the proper medical forms takes money and that is what the shelter is asking for at this time.
The dog's owner has until January 9 to fulfill part of his probation by bringing $100 worth of chicken and rice to the Maury County Animal Shelter.