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BRANDON – “Rats everywhere” is the way Tracy Belle of Wildthunder Wildlife & Animal Rehabilitation & Sanctuary described the home of a recent multiple dog rescue.

As a state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator and animal shelter operator, Belle was contacted Monday evening by the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office after Deputies performed a wellness check at a home located at 707 South Street in Brandon.

“I brought medication, kennels, blankets, and a control rod,” she said.

After going in the home 18 dogs were seized and taken to her facility on Henley Avenue. Belle reports three other deceased dogs were located, but believes there may have been more.

“We found a carcass in the kitchen and another in the basement,” she said.

Belle also suspects the dogs were living on the rats as no dog food was present.

She is also concerned that several puppies may have escaped before being captured.

After the animals arrived at Wildthunder, they underwent examinations for skin problems, like mange, fecal scan for tape worms were started.

“They were covered in fleas,” Belle added.

Belle runs a small operation but is very resourceful in an emergency. Cages planned for a raccoon pen were repurposed for dog kennels. Lumber for another project was cut to build a new indoor shelf for kennels. Belle pointed out that kennels cannot be stacked, it’s against the rules.

“We are staying in compliance with all of the regulations,” she said.

Belle is grateful for the response from the community, both volunteers and donations.

Donita Casey of Friends of the Shelter in Vinton picked up two dogs to foster. Cedar Bend Humane Society in Waterloo is fostering 10. Wildthunder had eight, but River Road Rescue Sanctuary in Littleton is going to take care of a dog without a jaw.

Wildthunder is considered a “no-kill” shelter.

“We don’t put down any animals due to space,” Belle said, adding they will refuse a healthy animal if there is no room.

Wildthunder is a small 501 c3 non-profit organization, relying on volunteers and donations. Financial contributions may be made online at, through their website, or sent to Wildthunder WARS, 2584 Henley Avenue, Independence, IA 50644. You can follow the progress of these and other rescued animals on their Facebook page, Wildthunder Wildlife & Animal Rehabilitation & Sanctuary.