By Rene Harbour
"On June 17, 2004 the Aransas County Sheriffs Department asked Dr. Mercer to help while they served a mental health warrant to an animal hoarder. When Dr. Mercer and the staff arrived to the home, they faced more than 50 animals living in deplorable conditions. Some animals ran loose, most were in cages. Some were hiding and aggressive and some were friendly. Some were even dead. The animals that were alive lived among the bodies of those who had passed away. Some bodies were even found in the homeowners shower, refrigerator and walkways.
As the staff of Horizon Veterinary Clinic carried out the deceased bodies, Dr. Mercer and Officer Gavin Harrison made their way through the more than 8 feet tall overgrowth of weeds and grass. One by one swift decisions had to be made if the pet was able to be saved or not. If he pet was to be saved at what and whose expense? Then what?
Where would that animal live until it was able to be medically treated and found a home. What degree of medical treatments and rehabilitation were needed? Would it have emotional and behavioral problems? Of course it would.
As Dr. Mercer and Officer Harrison came to the last cage they were drained. They had been very slow in their decision making of the fate of each animal. Careful not to become numb to the surroundings they gently spoke to each pet and tried to comfort them before each euthanasia. One of the last dogs of the day was a yellow haired, medium mix breed female dog. She was thin to the point that you could see every bone in her body. Her 19# weight should have been in the 45 # range. She was deplete of energy. Her gums were pale. She had ticks, fleas and only blood tests could reveal what else was wrong with her. The decision was made to euthanize her. As Dr. Mercer gave her one last petting of her head the dog licked her hand. Dr. Mercer spoke to her and she wagged her tail. The unnamed dog could barely lift her head but Dr. Mercer decided today was not her day to die. “Everybody needs a project” she said to her staff as she loaded her into the back of the SUV. The yellow haired dog was named “June” as a reminder of what she and the other dogs went through prior to and on that horrible day.
At the end of the day about half were saved and half had to be euthanized. Those that were not in immediate medical need were taken to the Humane Society of Aransas County. Those that needed immediate care were taken to Dr. Mercer’s clinic for treatment. The staff was drained but the day was really only beginning. ...June” was in need of a blood transfusion.
That day was the beginning of establishing “The June Project”. The June Project was established as a means to take in homeless, hurt and sick animals and give them the medical attention they need. After they are treated and then spayed or neutered Horizon Veterinary Clinic keeps them until they are placed into a loving home. We have annual yard sales and monthly raffles to raise money to care for he financial needs of these wonderful animals. Since 2004 we have rehabilated and placed 478 animals as of July 31st, 2012. We are committed to this cause and to bring awareness to the problem of hoarders and neglected animals even we continually are running in the red about $3,000 to $6,000.00. This number varies depending on donations and current animals in treatment.
“June” today is a very health, 47#, happy member of Dr. Mercer’s family. She goes to work with her every day along with the other 9 June project rescue dogs. She sleeps next to Dr. Mercer and stares out of the window if she is left for a short period of time until her friend that saved her returns."