SPRING GROVE – Scott Rood, a 40-year animal rescue specialist, received an urgent call from a Spring Grove breeder almost a week before police raided the breeder’s home and rescued 17 underfed and malnourished Great Danes.
The message was abrupt. The breeder, Patricia C. Messina, needed to unload nine Great Danes whose health were deteriorating because of severe digestive and diarrhea problems, Rood recalled.
Rood, who operates Great Dane Rescue Midwest in Woodstock, traveled to a veterinary clinic in Wonder Lake on Sept. 22 to retrieve the Great Danes from Messina, who was a recognizable figure in the breeding community.
The female, adult Great Danes ranged from 1 to 4 years old and were emaciated, weighing between 25 and 45 pounds, he said.
The dogs fell short of filling the 100- to 140-pound frame of an average female Great Dane. They were dehydrated, malnourished and covered in their own feces, Rood said. He has been giving them a steady, nutritional diet of 2,400 calories a day.
“They can’t get enough food, these dogs,” Rood said. “It’s one of the worst malnutrition cases I have ever seen, and I have dealt with a number of them.”
Messina and her husband, Sal C. Messina, were charged with animal cruelty and violating owner’s duties, a Class B misdemeanor, five days after giving the nine Great Danes to Rood. McHenry County sheriff officials said additional charges are expected in the case.
Rood had no idea the Messinas allegedly were neglecting 17 other Great Danes inside their Spring Grove home, he said.
Rood has managed to double the weight of the nine dogs he received a diet that includes cooked rice, yogurt, pineapple and Pedialyte, a fluid typically used to ease children’s stomachaches.
The pineapple, he said, should break the dogs’ habit of eating their own feces, a recognizable tendency in malnourished canines. As they recover, the Great Danes are isolated from the others in Rood’s rescue shelter.
He said expects to have them fully healthy in the next two weeks.
But their arrival put his shelter at capacity. Rood is caring for 25 dogs. The most he has ever had at one time is 21 Great Danes.
To make room for the rescued dogs, Rood and Nature’s Feed, a Spring Grove pet store, will host an emergency pet adoption event Saturday at the shop, 2440 Westward Drive. Rood said he will display 10 Great Danes, ranging from 1 to 5 years old, that are looking for a loving family.
Nature’s Feed owner Dorothy Vetrovec said she expects at least 50 people to attend.
Rood also does individual showings for interested adopting a Great Dane.
“There are so many animals that need homes,” Vetrovec said. “There’s no reason to be going to pet stores when you have great dogs in these shelters that need a home.”