Woman arrested with 40 dogs in home claimed to be rescuing them

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Just a day after 40 dogs were rescued from a local woman's home, Memphis Animal Services is pleading for help from the community as their shelter has already reached capacity.

Bonnie Maher-Hazel was arrested and charged with neglecting 40 dogs, and neighbors in Berclair were in shock that so many dogs were being held in a single-family home.

“I’d never seen any dogs there; I’d just heard them barking and whimpering and crying," neighbor William West said. "I’d never saw them being walked.”

Several German shepherds were rescued Thursday night from a home on Zelda in Berclair.

The scent of urine and feces still fills the home and is present from the sidewalk after 40 dogs were taken to MAS's shelter Thursday night, where they are being cleaned and slowly nursed back to health.

But it will be a long road ahead for the dogs after the horrific situation in which they were found.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen," MAS Director Alexis Pugh said. "I walked in last night and saw animals in conditions that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.”

The dogs now will need loving homes where they can spend the rest of their lives, and MAS is looking for animal lovers across the area to help out. Adoption is their first choice, but there are other ways Pugh said residents can make an impact and a difference.

“Share this on your social media, encourage your friends and neighbors to do it, donate supplies that we can send home with these fosters so that they can feel comfortable to take a pet into their home or walk into our doors and say, ‘How can I help?'" Pugh said.

Maher-Hazel claimed she helps run a non-profit called "Save Our Shepherds" that is dedicated to rescuing and caring for the dogs. But police said that was not happening at her home.

Anyone interested in adopting one of the rescued dogs can come to MAS as early as noon Saturday.

Maher-Hazel was released on her own recognizance following arrest, and she's scheduled to appear in court Monday.

— By WREG's Peter Fleischer

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