Animal Services impound canines from Lompoc apartment
A team of Santa Barbara County Animal Services staff impounded 104 dogs from inside a two-bedroom apartment in Lompoc Thursday after a concerned resident reached out.
The majority of the dogs were Chihuahua and Chihuahua mixes, and the owner relinquished custody of them.
They received a preliminary assessment at the apartment and were then transferred to the Santa Maria Animal Center for vaccinations and care for their immediate needs.
The operation required an 18-member team: a veterinarian, two registered veterinary technicians, four Animal Control officers, three supervisory staff, five support staff and three volunteers.
Staff ensured all 104 dogs had received care, were safely housed for the night and rescue transports were scheduled for the morning within 12 hours of the initial report.
Staff from Animal Services found placements for all the dogs on Friday, transporting them to Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, Santa Barbara Humane Society, Ventura County Animal Services, Ventura Humane Society, Woods Humane Society and Burbank Humane Society.
The dogs will soon be available for adoption in the coming weeks.
Details regarding the dogs’ owner are not available due to an ongoing investigation.
The initial call at 10:45 a.m. Thursday from the concerned resident mentioned potentially 25 dogs and barking.
An Animal Services officer was on site performing a wellness check within 30 minutes. It took six hours for officers to process all the animals, perform physical assessments and photograph them to create records for each one.
They were loaded into carriers, and the carriers were piled onto a big horse trailer and inside Animal Control vehicles.
The dogs began rolling into the Santa Maria Animal Center at around 5 p.m., and staff worked until midnight to check them all in.
According to Angela Yates, the new Santa Barbara County Animal Services director, there wasn’t any evidence that the apartment was set up as any kind of breeding operation. She said “it didn’t lend itself to that.”
“I’ve been doing this work for almost two decades, and I’ve never experienced anything with so much cooperation and the speed at which people lent a hand and jumped in,” Ms. Yates told the News-Press. “We not only had all 104 chihuahuas slated for pickup for a rescue (Friday), but we actually could have placed over 200 dogs.”
While 104 dogs were collected from the apartment Thursday, there were 107 dogs by Friday morning, as one of the Chihuahuas went into labor.
There were two other late-term pregnant dogs that were showing early signs of labor as well.
Ms. Yates said the oldest dogs were around 5 or 6 years old, but the majority of them were considerably younger. She added that quite a few of them had not been spayed or neutered, and that is first on the agenda for the Animal Services staff.
“Within Santa Barbara County, the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society and the Santa Barbara Humane Society both took almost 50 dogs,” Ms. Yates said. “So these dogs will be available for adoption over the coming weeks, and those interested should check with those two organizations directly. The dogs are in very good shape, they are social, and I think they will all make really wonderful companions.”
The director said considering the circumstances, it was a big win that the dogs were social and in good physical condition.
“This has been one of those stories that when you get the call and there’s a situation with so many dogs, it can really not have a good outcome. This story actually has such a happy ending,” Ms. Yates said. “If this had happened five years ago even, there’s a likelihood we would’ve tried to shoulder that responsibility alone. We wouldn’t have had the resources.
“It’s just so meaningful, probably even more meaningful after what we’ve all been living with in isolation during COVID,” she concluded. “It’s just proof that if we work together as a community, we can really accomplish amazing things.”
Ms. Yates said more details will come regarding the owner after the investigation has concluded.