Twenty-three Shetland Sheepdogs that had been confiscated from two separate but related residences in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY back in February have finally been released into the hands of Tri-State Sheltie Rescue. Animal hoarders Kolja Sustic, 64, and Pat Lim, 63, are under investigation for animal cruelty .
The Shelties, most of which have never had human contact, medical attention, or seen the light of day can begin their journey to finding new, loving homes.
The dogs were rescued from abhorrent conditions. Imagine the TV shows Hoarding: Buried Alive and Confessions: Animal Hoarding combined. It took Animal Care and Control, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, FDNY, NYPD, Department of Buildings, Department of Health, and a number of animal rescue groups to remove the dogs from the two Brooklyn Homes. Some of the dogs were being kept in the home the couple resided in, while others were kept in cages in a boarded up home that lacked utilities. Both homes were filled to the ceilings with clutter. Because of the excessive amount of trash in the home, FDNY had to cut their way in through the roof in order to gain access to the dogs.
After Sustic and Lim pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor animal abuse, which requires them to attend counseling, forfeit ownership of the Shelties, and forbids them from owning animals in the future, the dogs were released from the Animal Care and Control, where they were being held as evidence in the case. Sustic and Lim also received fines for various health and safety violations.
For Julie Canzoneri, founder of Tri-State Sheltie Rescue, this event marks the end of a 10-year-old saga and a rescue effort of a lifetime. She removed ten Shelties from Sustic and Kim’s possession in 2002 and then sixteen more in 2010.
"I was horrified to learn all those years, they were still trapped in that house in total darkness," Canzoneri told the Daily News.
Canzoneri had made it her mission to get all of the dogs out, knocking on many doors and reaching out to multiple organizations, all to no avail until she got in touch with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, who sprung into action after hearing about the case. It took nearly a year before a full rescue operation was able to take place.
Tri-State Sheltie rescue received the first batch of dogs last week and will be receiving the second batch this week. All of the dogs will receive medical attention, which will include dental work, blood work, and spaying and neutering.
Canzoneri estimates the cost of treatment to exceed $20,000 and is currently trying to raise funds to pay Noah’s Ark Veterinary Practice, who will be providing the work upfront to get the dogs ready for adoption.