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In a rural area of northwest Tucson, Arizona, in March of 2008, one of the most startling cases of a hoarder of toy dog breeds was raided by Pima County sheriff's deputies and the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

Seven-hundred ninety-six dogs had been "collected" into the triple-wide mobile home, plus 82 caged parrots. The dog breeds included chihuahuas, terriers, pomeranians, Lhasa apsos, and Chinese cresteds. The owners were breeding them and offering dogs for sale, but reproduction vastly exceeded sales, and the owners were doing nothing to control the situation.

Every inch of the mobile home's floor was slick with urine and feces, inclusive of kitchen and bedroom, with a very strong stench. Sheriff's Sgt. James Ogden said the living conditions were "horrible! Filth everywhere! Probably one of the worst situations I've ever seen."

Jenny Rose speaking for the Humane Society said, "This is twice the number that we've ever seen before, twice as big as our previous record-breaker. The home was definitely in very bad condition. Obviously, with 800 dogs in a triple-wide mobile home, they were packed in. That being said, they were in pretty good shape."

It looked like the elderly couple might escape charges in exchange for giving up the dogs voluntarily. But when Jenny Rose said they were in "pretty good shape" she meant they'd been fed and watered adequately. Many in fact suffered from illnesses, and some even had missing paws, apparently from animal attacks or getting them caught in fencing, so "pretty good" means "given the repulsive situation."

There were too many dogs for one shelter to handle and one-hundred were sent to a Phoenix shelter. PetSmart's Emergency Aid Wagon, Arizona Chihuahua Rescue, and other organizations soon stepped up for what became well known in the national rescue community as "the Tucson 800." As soon as a veterinarian had checked them out -- they all needed their vaccinations -- it was expected adoptions would begin.

The Tucson 800

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