Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport took in 157 dogs in August in animal cruelty case against a Holmes County couple.
FREEPORT — One month after taking on possibly the largest challenge in its 12-year history, the Alaqua Animal Refuge is showing exactly what it's made of.
Alaqua took in 157 dogs after a Holmes County couple were arrested on animal cruelty charges Aug. 9. All of the dogs were living outside without access to fresh water or food. Many were severely malnourished and/or seriously injured, and about 60 percent had to be treated for severe cases of heartworm.
As of the middle of last week, 96 of the dogs taken in last month have been adopted. Alaqua, which opened in 2007 in Freeport, normally holds between 75-100 dogs at any given time.
“It’s really added a lot of work, but this is what makes us do what we do,” Alaqua founder Laurie Hood said. “The first week, almost immediately, the dogs went from being nervous and scared and hiding in their kennels to standing up and being excited to go on walks. Every single dog that comes around ... it’s like they know they were rescued.
“They just have the best personalities. They sing to you when you walk up to the cages. ... They’re just excited to be here.”
Ferrell D. Godfrey, 55, and Marianne L. Godfrey, 60, were arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty. They are scheduled for arraignment at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 2.
Marianne Godfrey has a previous conviction for animal cruelty in 2011 in Houston County, Alabama, after 228 animals were confiscated by the Houston County Sheriff's Office. She pleaded guilty, was sentenced to six months of hard labor, had the sentence suspended in lieu of two years probation and paid $1,558 in fines. Another woman, Pam Andrews, was convicted of animal cruelty in the same case.
Alaqua initially took in 100 dogs Aug. 9 after Holmes County sheriff’s deputies were at the Godfreys' home on a separate matter and discovered the animals. In the ensuing weeks, Alaqua took in 57 more dogs from another property.
There are 61 dogs from the initial group that still need homes. Photos and more information about them are available on Alaqua's website, alaqua.org, and its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/AlaquaAnimalRefuge/.
“If someone is thinking about adopting, we encourage them to go online to read a little bit about (the dogs), then come out to see the dog in person,” Hood said. “We don’t process applications until people meet the dogs, and then the process doesn’t take too long after that.”