NAUGATUCK — Four toy poodles and one miniature ran across Daryl Masone’s deck last week, active and affectionate, with rotting teeth and tumors dangling from their undersides.
Masone, who runs Poodle Rescue Connecticut with her husband, took the five dogs Aug. 3 from a tiny and filthy house in Hebron, where a woman had kept them along with 17 Labrador retrievers and six Labradoodles. The poodles, all female, had mammary tumors from overbreeding. They were dirty, with matted fur, long nails, fleas, intestinal worms and no names.
Apricot, Brulee, Creamsicle, Dove Bar and Éclair had tumors and teeth removed Friday, and were spayed. The only white poodle, Dove Bar, had an infected eye removed. The poodles, all between 5 and 12 years old, are slowly being cured of their other ailments.
Masone said she had to pay at least $6,000 for the surgeries and veterinary care. Now she is raising money to pay off the charges on her credit card.
“It’s not about the money,” said Masone, 64, who lives on Autumn Ridge Road. “I just want to be able to pay the surgeon.”
Donations are being accepted via PayPal at poodlerescuect.org. Checks can also be mailed to Poodle Rescue Connecticut, P.O. Box 188, Naugatuck, CT 06770; Watertown Animal Hospital, 673 Litchfield Road, Watertown, CT 06795; or Windsor Animal Clinic, 46 Poquonock Ave., Windsor, CT 06095, where veterinarian Eric Galster performed the surgeries.
Aside from raising money, Masone is trying to find homes for the dogs. Unlike many rescued poodles, the “Hebron Five” are well-behaved. Masone said she would give them for a minimal amount to responsible owners.
“I named them sweetly because they were so sweet,” Masone said. “I want them to have a nice home.”
Masone did not know last week whether the tumors were cancerous. If they are, she said, the dogs should be allowed to live out their lives. Masone has been giving them medication for their intestinal parasites, Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. She has cleaned them, cut their nails and rid them of fleas. Once their gums heal, they should be able to eat dog food normally, Masone said.
“In a couple months, you’ll see a big difference in them,” Masone said.
Masone said she received a call Aug. 3 from a retired animal control officer about the hoarder in Hebron. Masone arrived to find the poodles in the woman’s house, with the other dogs sheltered outside near chicken coops and other farm animals. Other rescuers took the 23 dogs that were not poodles, Masone said.
Masone estimated the woman had bred the dogs about two times a year, when most dogs should be bred twice or three times in their lives. Masone said she had taken five poodles from the woman seven years ago, in a similar situation that landed the woman in trouble with the state.
Raymond Connors, supervisor of the animal control division of the state Department of Agriculture, said his office was not handling the case. The animal control office in Hebron did not return a message last week.
Saving the Hebron Five will be one of Masone’s last acts as owner of Poodle Rescue Connecticut. After helping about 2,000 poodles over 14 years, she is retiring Oct. 1 as a poodle rescuer. She will help coordinate new homes for abandoned poodles without taking any in herself.
Masone will keep ownership of seven poodles as her personal pets and find homes for the 13 others currently in her care.
“They’re very sweet,” Masone said. “They will all get homes.”