Number of Gabbs dogs dwindles by 50

Animal rescue organizations are worried about Internet postings that have popped up seeking homes for dozens of dogs orphaned in Gabbs when their owner died in May.

Known as the "Gabbs Dogs," the mutts, formerly under the care of Dama Wirries, were stranded in the desert 120 miles southeast of Yerington in May when the 80-year-old woman died suddenly of a heart attack.

In the months that followed, Wirries' niece Linda Bailey, of Bishop, Calif., checked on the dogs once a week and hired feeders to go out to the ranch just outside Gabbs, a town with a population of 318.

An estimated 50 of the 145 stranded dogs have reportedly found homes as of this week.

But along with local and regional animal rescue agencies coming to the dogs' aid, ads were posted on the Internet looking for dog rescuers.

The Appeal found a pair of ads posted within the last week, but Bailey said none were placed by her or the dogs' caregivers.

"I had a woman come from Carson City to get (a dog)," she said. "I don't know about the (Internet) thing, though. I didn't place those ads - we're not really computer-literate. There's probably about 86 dogs left, and time is running out."

Some of the dogs not taken in by rescue organizations were the concern of local animal rescuers Monday.

Minden resident Kathy Givens, director of Australian Shepherd and Border Collie Rescue of Northern Nevada, said "We were getting a lot of mixed signals about what is going on out there. We heard (an animal rescue) out of Sacramento was going to be coming in last weekend, a rescue effort similar to (Hurricane) Katrina.

"We thought 'Oh good - that's a huge disaster averted' - but then they said they didn't go. So now we're not sure what happened."

Connie Nowlin, of Incline Village-based Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation, said she is concerned about Internet postings saying the dogs need adopting and about the dogs' overall well-being.

"Ugh," Nowlin said of Internet postings. "From a rescue standpoint, its questionable whether you're getting people coming in the best interest of animals - that's pretty scary.

"I hope they're being fed and cared for as best they can. We're waiting to have somebody - a big organization - that's able to help a little."

The Yerington Animal Shelter took 13 dogs last week, and Kanab, Utah-based Best Friends took six.

"At this point, you can hope for the best and focus on the dogs that are still there," Nowlin said. "Most of the foster homes have nowhere to take these dogs; (they) assume the bigger groups, perhaps the Nevada Humane Society - which are set up for disaster relief - would step in and try to be the coordinators for those of us who are the smaller rescuers.

"Groups like WARF certainly do not have the means that the big groups do. We would be happy to help, but can't be the focal point."

Diane Blankenburg, community programs director of the Nevada Humane Society, said the shelter's dog-care manager is planning a trip to Gabbs in the "near future."

"From what I understand, based on hearsay, the dogs aren't socialized," she said. "There's no way to know for sure until we go out there and see them."

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at or 881-1219.

You can help

• Anyone interested in adopting one of the Gabbs gang is asked to call the Yerington shelter at 463-6578, Bev Beaman at 463-1842 or Linda Bailey at 933-2468.

• Visit or for information

• Pictures of the dogs are on the Yerington Animal Shelter Web page on or visit

• The shelter is at 217 Trowbridge Road in Yerington.


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