MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - On a recent Saturday morning, WINK News Call For Action tagged along with dozens of volunteers rescuing dogs dumped in the Everglades. What we saw would melt your heart.
Five puppies, only a few weeks old, were living under a storage container at a nursery in the Everglades in Miami-Dade County. The rescuers were on their stomachs, reaching under the container to pull the dogs out.
The pups were healthy for the most part. Volunteers said they probably had worms and fleas. Mom and Dad were much worse, the two were starving and emaciated.
"That's nothing, that's nothing, it's worse, way worse," said Amy Roman, who led the rescue operation.
Roman founded 100 Plus Abandoned Dogs of Everglades Florida, a year-and-a-half ago. In that time the group has rescued more than 600 dogs. They have all been adopted out to loving families.
"They're not sterilized so they just keep reproducing and reproducing. And the pythons are out here, the speeding cars," Roman said.
Early Saturday morning the rescuers already had two dogs on their way to the animal hospital. Two Everglades residents gave up the dogs because they couldn't care for them anymore.
Only a few minutes later, the crews pull over and find a white lab starving on the side of the road. They pick him up and send him to the animal hospital immediately.
"Every dog we bring in, they're not microchipped, they're not vaccinated," Roman said, "to me that's not owning a dog and being responsible."
Most of the dogs that are rescued have been abandoned by owners. Many of them are dumped on the side of the road. Every few weeks, dozens of volunteers go into remote parts of south Florida to find these helpless animals.
The dogs will receive vaccinations and other needed treatments. Once they're healthy enough they will be adopted. Not one of the more than 600 rescued dogs has been put down.
Each rescue mission costs about $20,000 for medical treatments and boarding costs. All money is donated.
"We desperately need money, we desperately need homes, we desperately need fosters," Roman said.
On Saturday, the volunteers rescued 22 dogs. The conditions may make them cringe, but in the end, they say it's worth it.
"My stomach is in knots, I feel like I could be sick. Yet, an overwhelming feeling comes over me when I know they're safe and I know where they're going next. They're going to go into wonderful homes."
The dogs will soon be available for adoption. You can check out the groups Facebook page or website for more information on how to adopt. You can also volunteer for upcoming rescue missions by calling the group at (561) 860-3783.