Rescued pups coming to Martha’s Vineyard

Fifty-seven dogs were trapped in a hoarding situation.


Updated Feb. 14

Fifty-seven dogs were rescued from a hoarding situation in Texas and several of them — including two Yorkshire terriers named Bacon and Bits and two maltese named Wendy and Peter Pan — are coming to Martha’s Vineyard and will be available for adoption. 

Adoption applications for the two Yorkshire terriers and two maltese became available on Sunday and Tuesday respectively. Six adult Yorkshire terriers, including a pregnant female, are also planned to be sent to Martha’s Vineyard for adoption, according to Sandy Paws Rescue owner Ashley Medeiros. 

The pups coming to the Island will remain in foster homes until a willing and ready person comes forward to adopt them. Bacon and Bits started their trip on the road to the Vineyard on Saturday. Wendy and Peter Pan are also on their own journey north; as of Monday,  Feb. 13, they were somewhere in Mississippi. 

Medeiros also said her rescue recently lost its kennel location in Vineyard Haven, so the rescue is now primarily foster based. 

“We do need more foster homes,” Medeiros said. 

The dogs were rescued from a Killeen, Texas, home in a collaborative effort among Sandy Paws Rescue on Martha’s Vineyard, New York-based Our Best Friends Rescue, and Texas Humane Heroes. The rescued dogs were divided among the organizations. 

A campaign by Sandy Paws Rescue on Cuddly, a crowdsourcing site focused on helping animals, is hoping to raise $8,000 to cover food, shelter, and veterinary care. The campaign can be accessed at

In Texas, Red Barn Kennel owner Ilana Britten manages the onboarding work for Sandy Paws Rescue, and the Killeen Animal Shelter reached out to Britten seeking assistance. “Of course, I said yes,” she said. 

The dogs were in bad health, losing their fur and with poor oral hygiene, some were missing teeth, and living in a filthy environment. Some dogs were found dead.

Britten rushed one of the dogs to a veterinarian.

“I rushed to the vet,” she said. “I dropped what I was doing, I scooped her up … praying she would make it. She did make it until we got there, but her body was in such bad shape that the vet said the best thing would be just to let her go, so we humanely euthanized her. She was in pain, we just had to let her go.” 

Three animal control trucks were needed to transport the dogs. The numerous dogs are being sent to the rescues in different batches after receiving grooming and medical care, like getting spayed and neutered. “They’ll get to live their life,” Britten said.  

This hoarding case was a part of a “terrible” pet overpopulation issue in Texas, according to Britten. She described the situation as “the wild west” regarding laws, enforcement, and what pet owners do. 

“Everybody does what they want, everybody decides they’re a breeder,” Britten said. “Breeding, breeding, breeding. They all end up in the shelters.” 

Near Killeen, the issue is exacerbated by the nearby U.S. Army base Fort Hood. “I’m not blaming the military, of course, but a lot of people move, they get orders, they go overseas, they get deployed, they go to war, so we have a lot of dogs that aren’t able to travel with them,” Britten said. 

Some of the dogs that come to Martha’s Vineyard are also from southern Texas near the Mexican border, an area with so many stray dogs that Britten said someone can fill up a school bus with them in a day. Medeiros said the pet overpopulation is an issue in other parts of the South as well. 

There is currently an ongoing investigation and court case against the woman, who was a breeder. “Basically the outcome for her will be that she won’t be able to own pets in city limits anymore and I’m not sure about fines,” Britten said, who declined to identify the hoarder because of the ongoing nature of the investigation. 

However, Britten said the woman was a good person who was overwhelmed by the situation. Britten said a lack of reliable help and inability to properly give care, particularly spaying and neutering, because of her older age led to a “nonstop vicious cycle” of continuous puppy litters. 

“It happens, unfortunately,” Medeiros said.