Just four days ago, three puppies, six adult dogs and five cats shared an overheated, stench-steeped garage with 15 carcasses in a Sumner residence.
On Wednesday morning, the surviving rescues are thriving in their new life at Last Hope Animal Rescue, a no-kill shelter run by volunteers in Cedar Rapids.
In fact, the pups and the kittens are not animals anymore.
They are pets.
And in the shelter, surrounded by the care of volunteers and veterinarians, they are feeling what it’s like to be loved, and, well, adored.
As part of their newfound happiness, they all now have names.
The pups, under 12 weeks old, are now the namesakes of the adopted daughters of Gru, the lead character of “Despicable Me,” the three-part animated film series.
So meet Margo, Edith and Agnes.
And their bigger buddies Junior, Marlena, Dave, and Bob. And, their feline friends Bohden, Dani, Luna and Shay.
They were all rescued on Sunday, around 3 p.m. after law enforcement executed a warrant at 611 E. First St. in Sumner.
Kimberly Curtis, 46, and Karen Curtis, 56, were arrested and each charged with 28 counts of animal neglect, resulting in death or serious injury and 15 counts of failure to dispose of a dead animal.
Animal neglect is a serious misdemeanor, with each count punishable by up to a year in jail, and failure to dispose of a dead animal is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
The animals were malnourished and dehydrated and some were sick, according to court documents.
Crystal McGuire, the cat program coordinator at Last Hope, said Margo, one of the pups, received emergency care at the Eastern Iowa Veterinary Specialty Center.
“What got to me was the number of dead animals on the property,” she said, referring to the rescue operation in Sumner. “And the stench. It had been reported by the neighbors and the dogs were barking.”
McGuire added the dogs and cats are still being evaluated and will need to be medically cleared before they are available for adoption.
The shelter is looking for donations of dog and cat food as well as puppy training pads. To help, call (319) 200-4880 or click adopthope.org.
Sumner Police and the Bremer County Sheriff’s Office conducted the rescue, along with Last Hope and The Humane Society of the United States.
“We were thankful to be able to provide support to the Sumner Police Department in the rescuing of these animals,” said Preston Moore, Iowa state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The conditions in the garage and home where these animals were found were nothing short of heartbreaking, but we are thankful that the rescued animals will now have a chance at living the rest of their lives in loving homes.”
McGuire, the cat coordinator, who has worked at Last Hope for eight years, said she is relieved to see the pets enjoying their new life.
“They are adjusting well and they are grateful to be out of that situation,” McGuire said.