|Who, age||What||Where||When||Last Known Address|
|Katherine Titus, 75||hoarding & neglect of 60 dogs||
|February 6, 2014|
|Type of Crime||Other Crimes||#/Type of animal(s) involved||Case Status||Next Court Date /Courthouse|
|60 dogs||Not charged|
On property off Dillard Road outside the Wilson city limits, a scene unfolds which can only be described as a haven of animal neglect. But that does not begin to adequately reflect the set of circumstances that can best be described as tragic for both dogs and their caregiver.
A Wilson woman's efforts to provide help to a friend have begun to reap results, as animal groups are coming together to find homes for numerous dogs at her residence.
An estimated 60 dogs need homes. They are currently living in a mobile home, 2 campers, a dog pen and even a car. That's where Katherine Titus also lives.
Photo courtesy of Keith Howard/The Daily Ardmoreite Titus tends to some of the dogs she has taken in over the years.
Titus is surrounded by the dogs because she has a history of taking in abandoned dogs and caring for them as best she can. But she says health issues and other factors have made it impossible for her to take care of them. Her friend, Kat Hester, has asked several different groups to help provide relief and find homes for the displaced animals. "I found out about her in an outreach program several years ago, and I befriended her," Hester explains. "Me and a couple of other ladies would buy food for her and dog food."
Hester describes Titus as essentially homeless. She says Titus arrived in Wilson in an old white van with 12 dogs, and was allowed to live on a resident's land, taking shelter in an old camper. She was initially provided help by a local business to feed the dogs, but the option is no longer available because of mounting expenses. Hester says Titus receives a Social Security check to live on, but spends most of the money on the dogs.
Hester has been able to take in some of the dogs, but needs help. She says it was not uncommon for area residents to abandon the dogs, which found their way to Titus' care. "The salt plant is down the road, and instead of taking the dogs to the pound, they drop the dogs off at the road because they know she will take care of them," Hester says. "We are pleading for the dogs to be adopted. A lot of these dogs are very adoptable and they are well mannered. They need to be vetted. Some of them have names, and there are some that are sick and need to go to heaven. I don't like to say that, but they have suffered."
Hester says she has been able to help, but her resources are limited in light of the number of dogs that require help. "I couldn't handle this on my own. The dogs are freezing and starving. Not all of them, but they are in bad shape. A few have died. There are a bunch outside, some in the mobile home, some in the campers and some in the pens. Titus is unable to take care of them. "We have a lot of animal cruelty in this town. But this case is different. She loves those animals. But it is overwhelming."
Titus acknowledges that she can't take care of the dogs, but also describes her affection for them. At the age of 75, she was recently diagnosed with cancer and is taking treatments. "There is a lot of unconditional love," she says. "Each of these dogs has a name and they know they are loved. And when they leave, a piece of me will go with them. "I came out, watered them and fed them as long as I could. And I can't say enough about the people from Ardmore that have come out to feed and take care of my dogs."
Hester says Ardmore resident Debbie Galyean was among the first to provide help, buying straw for the dogs as protection against the cold, as well as food. She also provided clothes for Titus.
Hester also contacted Patti Cain with Forever Friends Foster Care & Rescue. Since February 6th, volunteers have traveled to Wilson to feed and water the dogs, as well as put up tarps for protection. Cain says some animals have also been removed and vetted to be ready for adoption. Unfortunately, not all dogs have been able to receive care in time, as 2 froze to death and several puppies from a litter did not survive.
"We have been out there everyday," Cain says. "It will be a big project; there are at least 60 dogs. Those that have been removed have been taken to the veterinarian and had heartworm. "Her heart is in a good place. The sad thing was she didn't ask for help quick enough."
The dogs arrived at Titus' front porch in varying stages of abandonment and neglect. Signs of neglect are evident, as at least 1 dog is missing a leg. "People have come and dropped those dogs off," Titus recalls. "One dog had no hair and had a pint of oil poured over him. He has recovered and is doing well 3 years later. There have been dogs abandoned, abused, cut or had broken bones. I feel lucky in that God chose me to take care of these dogs. It had to be someone, and God chose me."
The Carter County Sheriff's Department has checked in on Titus, and also contacted Adult Protection Services. Titus says she is going to move to Burneyville to live with her sister, and plans to do so at the beginning of March, which creates a short timetable for the dogs to be adopted. The end result will be a fresh beginning for both the dogs and Titus.
"I just felt like the good Lord led me to her," Hester says. "She has slept with the dogs on cold nights, and she will say that they saved her life. When she gets her Social Security check, first she buys food for the dogs. You wouldn't be able to tell it, but she put the dogs before herself."
Reference: The Daily Ardmoreite