145 dogs in Nevada desert need homes - fast

You've heard of holes in the desert.

And now you may know the source.

Dogs - 145 of them to be exact.

In case you're not a resident of Gabbs, population 318 - not including dogs - you probably haven't heard the barks, howls and growls.

But they're out there - two-and-a-half hours (120 miles) southeast of Yerington - smack dab in the middle of the Nevada desert, dogs by the dozen, with almost nobody to care for them.

In May, Dama Wirries, 58, died of a sudden heart attack.

Her dogs were left to, well, go to the dogs.

Since then, her niece, Linda Bailey of Bishop, Calif., has become the animals' defacto caregiver, hiring two local residents to feed the dogs daily, and visiting the ranch herself at least once a week.

"(My aunt) had been in Idaho and started basically an animal control shelter," Bailey said. "Her job brought her to Nevada. She brought 70 dogs there and she kind of got overwhelmed. People would drop off dogs because they heard about the shelter.

"The number was about 145 when she died - and she was living alone."

Wirries did not own the property, but the desert ranch's owner, who requested not to be named, has provided food and a temporary place for the dogs to live.

But the dogs' time on the property may be limited.

"Basically, he's requested we get the dogs off the property," Bailey said. "He hasn't pushed a deadline, but the sooner we get them homes, the better.

"At any time, he could say 'we're not going to do this anymore' - so we're trying to hurry."

Thus far, two animal shelters have stepped up. Best Friends Network, a Kanab, Utah-based shelter, has taken five dogs from the premises and put them up for adoption.

"Now winter is fast approaching and these dogs need to leave Gabbs for safe, indoor homes of their own," wrote Julie Snyder of Best Friends. "The number sounds overwhelming, and the middle of nowhere is so very, very far from a real home."

Bev Beaman, a spokeswoman from the Yerington Animal Shelter said her shelter has taken 13 dogs, but there are many, many more "in need of immediate care."

"Thirteen is about all we can handle," she said. "We're moving as fast as we can - if anybody can foster these dogs - that would be welcome."

Beaman said the dogs are mostly mixed breeds and only a handful are spayed and neutered.

"The long-haired dogs especially need attention, they're matted and need some care," she said. "The dogs are not feral - they're afraid, but not feral. Once you catch 'em - they're fine. They do not bite."

Both shelter spokeswomen said they've never heard of a case like this.

"I live all the way in California," Bailey said. "We're doing what we can. Time is running out."

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

You can help

• Anyone interested in adopting one of the Gabbs gang is asked to call the

Yerington shelter at (775) 463-6578, Bev Beaman at (775) 463-1842 or Linda Bailey at (760) 933-2468.

• Pictures of the dogs are on the Yerington Animal Shelter Web page on Petfinder.com or visit http://www.1-800-save-a-pet.com/adoption_rescue/ 71178.html

• The shelter is at 217 Trowbridge in Yerington.


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