A homeless family was discovered living in the Arizona desert with approximately 150 animals, according to a press statement issued by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office on Friday evening.
The State Land Trust notified deputies on August 10 that a family living on state-owned land near Wittman, Arizona, was being evicted after living there for roughly a year. They noticed a significant number of animals living in kennels and tents across the region upon their arrival.
“Detectives were startled to find that none of the animals exhibited signs of malnutrition, and no sick animals were discovered,” Gillet said in a statement. The animals had access to shelter and shade.
Gillett noted that the family agreed to willingly surrender the animals to the MCSO MASH facility, where they would get veterinary evaluation and care before being made available for adoption.
Prior to the arrival of law enforcement, the family contacted Sky Sanctuary Rescue for assistance in relocating their dogs and cats.
Elli Smith, the founder of Sky Sanctuary Rescue in Phoenix, stated over the phone to TODAY that the family reached out to them via social media for assistance.
Smith went to the location with the goal of acquiring 10 animals, but upon arrival, she discovered that there were more than the 50-to-60 animals she was told were available.
“Within the (family’s) limited means, the dogs were all extremely well fed and cared for,” she added, noting that there were a large number of senior dogs, some with minor medical difficulties, and three mothers with newborn puppies. “I left the first night with twenty-two dogs.”
The next day, as the deputies and MCSO team were relocating the family and animals, she returned and took 56 medically vulnerable animals and one cat. Smith revealed that the family ultimately kept five dogs and were able to move to a new residence.
In addition, Gillet stated that the shelter “was not collaborating with the MASH unit or MCSO in an official role.” The MCSO brought in 93 canines and nine felines.
Smith expresses her desire that the family not be vilified, noting how much the family “cared about those dogs.” “They cared for those pets, though perhaps not in the same way that we would,” she remarked. The dogs were generally well-cared for.
She stated that the animals are currently receiving medical care in the hopes that they will be fostered and adopted.