For five neglected dogs, 2012 will bring a new lease on life, thanks to a Buffalo rescue organization.
More than 30 basset hounds were surrendered to a humane society in Texas last week, malnourished and covered with fleas and flies.
Overwhelmed, workers there put the word out to dog rescue organizations that they needed help. By Friday night, a van from Buffalo's ABC Basset Rescue was en route to collect five of the dogs.
"We're so fortunate in New York because we have more demand than dogs," said Shelly Gordon, ABC Basset Rescue vice president.
The Buffalo-based organization facilitates the adoption of rescued and surrendered basset hounds for all of New York State through a network of about 60 volunteers. In 2011, it rescued about 80 dogs.
Driver Bob Richardson unloaded the dogs at Gordon's house in Cheektowaga for a quick break Saturday before taking them on to Rochester. There, they will be placed in foster homes for observation until they can be placed in permanent homes.
Though two of the dogs were so thin that their ribs were showing, all have been given a clean bill of health. They received the necessary shots in Texas, were spayed or neutered and each had a microchip inserted to help locate them should they become lost. One dog underwent surgery to remedy an eye problem.
The dogs -- ranging in age from 21 months to eight years old -- emerged from the van looking cautious but curious. Volunteer Nancy Fayad, who has adopted four rescued bassets, took one especially nervous pooch for a walk.
"They're so forgiving. No matter what they've been through, no matter how skittish they are, they turn around and love you," she said. "They know they've been saved."
Before being surrendered, the dogs were kept in cages in a barn by two elderly breeders, who were struggling with health problems and facing the impending foreclosure of their home.
The owners gave or sold some dogs to other breeders before their daughter convinced them to call authorities and surrender the rest.
"These dogs have had no human socialization. But now they get to be somebody's couch potato -- somebody's best friend. They get to explore new things and eat good food," Gordon said. "New year, new life."
Anyone interested in adopting or fostering a dog from ABC Basset Rescue can fill out an application at NYbasset.org or call 656-1760.