Fresh Start Animal Rescue closing for good

Published: Jun. 16, 2017 at 9:36 PM CDT
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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) -- Fresh Start Animal Rescue will be closing their doors for good.

Mold on walls, dogs laying on wet floors when it rained and animals kept in close quarters. These were the conditions Kathy Mehalko says dogs and cats were living in before she took over at Fresh Start Animal Rescue in Belvidere.

"Our intention was not to close Fresh Start, we just wanted the neglect and the abuse to stop," says Fresh Start Animal Rescue’s new manager, Kathy Mehalko.

The new managers opened the doors one last time to allow the public to see for themselves.

"You always wondered, what was really back there," says Fresh Start pet owner, Cherie DeCoto.

Kathy says the dogs were kept in grooming cages.

"The dog basically had enough room to stand up turn around and lay down. Every time it rained the animals were literally laying in water," says Mehalko.

She says the old managers were keeping dead dogs in two freezers.

"After they died, they were sold. So they were making money off of the dogs not only in adoptions, but the ones that died," says Mehalko.

Kathy says there were giant holes in the walls of some of the small rooms, where the animals tried to claw themselves out.

The living conditions were the reason many who adopted dogs from the rescue say their dogs died, after spending thousands of dollars at the vet.

"Four months, yup I adopted him in December, and he died at the end of April, just four months," says Fresh Start pet owner, Ann Dwyer.

Kathy says all they wanted to do was help save the animals. Now the doors are closed for good.

"And this was supported by a community of people who love animals and didn't realize what was going on behind those doors," says Mehalko.

Boone County Animal Services took in a large portion of the animals and the rest were taken in by other animal rescues to help nurse them back to health.