The HCHS responded to a dog and cat rescue request Wednesday on Old Stage Road south of Rogersville where a mother and son who had been squatting on the property were evicted earlier this week.
Although neighbors said the squatters had many dogs, Behnke and her staff retrieved the five that remained on the property Wednesday, as well as three tame cats. There were also several feral cats which they couldn’t catch.
Four of the five dogs didn’t appear to have serious health problems.
On Tuesday, however, Behnke had asked HCHS Facebook followers to drive by the Old Stage Road property and post photos on Facebook so she could get an idea of how many dogs were there. Behnke knew from those photographs that on the property there was an emaciated dog which she later named Ghost.
“We went to the property (Wednesday), and there were two trailers and a house, the people were gone and of course the homes were filthy and in horrible condition,” Behnke said. “There were two dogs in the front yard, and then two others came running, so we got them pretty easily. But we didn’t see Ghost, and we looked everywhere.”
She added, “There were doghouses everywhere with chains, but no dogs. What I believe they did is, when they left they just unchained the animals. We loaded up the dogs and cats we’d found, and we were walking the property top to bottom looking for the emaciated dog I had seen in the photo. I said, ‘We cannot leave without this dog.’ ”
Other rescuers suggested that Ghost might have died because the person who took photos the day before had commented that the dog was barely able to stand.
“I said, ‘I don’t care if we find him passed away. I just can’t leave knowing that he’s out here,’ ” Behnke added. “We were talking to a neighbor across the street who said he’d seen a really skinny dog earlier that morning. All of a sudden, something tapped the back of my leg, and I turned around and looked down and it was him.
“I wrapped my arms around him and was bawling my eyes out because we almost left. That’s why I named him Ghost — because we searched this place from top to bottom and couldn’t find him, and we were getting ready to leave. I’m like, ‘I cannot leave without this dog,’ and he just showed up out of nowhere. I said, ‘I found him,’ and everybody is like, ‘No, he found you.’ ”
Ghost was dehydrated and severely malnourished, and on Thursday he was taken to Dr. B.’s Healthy Pets veterinary office in Rogersville to determine if any other health issues need to be addressed.
Ghost is believed to be about a year old and like all the dogs rescued Wednesday is a hound mix.
People who have been following the story on the HCHS’s Facebook page have been making donations for Ghost’s vet bill, including a little girl who came to the office Thursday and contributed $5 from her birthday money.
Anyone interested in helping to pay Ghost’s medical bill or in adopting any of the dogs and cats that were rescued can call the HCHS at (423) 272-6538.
There have already been several inquiries about adopting Ghost, Behnke said, but he will be nursed back to health before he is allowed to go to a new home.
“He is a skeleton,” Behnke said. “We know he has hound in him because of how he howls, but he also has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. One of his eyes is like a marble, half blue and half brown, and people are just falling in love with him. People are calling from everywhere about him. I don’t know how we’re going to determine who gets him. Right now I’m just hoping to hear a good report on him from the vet.”