They rescued 404 neglected animals in Shippensburg. It's been an emotional, exhausting ordeal

Carley Bonk
Chambersburg Public Opinion

Janine Guido's exhausting week started with a panicked call from a Pennsylvania state trooper.

"She was like, 'Janine, this is really bad, there are dead animals everywhere," said the owner and founder of Speranza Animal Rescue in Mechanicsburg. "I need you here, like, now.' So, I got dressed, grabbed some coffee and drove up to Shippensburg."

The operation was overwhelming. The first night, volunteers helped transport 115 animals to the rescue from a property in Shippensburg. Ultimately, Speranza took 404 sick and malnourished animals under its care.

"I put out a plea for help. I was like, 'Guys, all hands on deck, we got to get to Shippensburg,' so the horse trailer and then maybe 15 cars, plus me went, and we just started loading animals getting them off the property," she said. "We were more focused on the goal of just getting them safe, getting them somewhere with proper food, shelter and water. They didn't have access to any of that at the place they came from."

Several of the animals rescued from a neglected property in Shippensburg have been quarantined at Speranza Animal Rescue in order to help contain the possible spread of disease to other animals.

A horse, geese, ducks, pheasants, rabbits, chickens, roosters, turkeys, goats, sheep and a pigeon were taken from the property.

Speranza already had 86 farm animals and 50 dogs on-site to care for. The group was able to rehome nearly 100 of the animals from Shippensburg to other rescues, but that still left 300 more animals to feed and treat than they had the previous week.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture came to assess the animals and recommended quarantine for at least three more weeks due to the ill conditions of many. 

"Right now the birds are all very sick," she said. "Unfortunately, we've lost at least one chicken or rooster a day since they came, a couple of days were like two or three. The goats and sheep are very, very ill, they all have upper respiratory infections, some of their eyes are crusted shut with infection. Some have passed away from pneumonia. I think we lost four or five sheep and goats so far. They're all malnourished, they're all just in dire need of medical care, which obviously we gave them."

Rabbits were among the animals that were rescued from a property in Shippensburg and transported for care to Speranza Animal Rescue in Mechanicsburg.

The only blessing has been the rabbits, ducks and geese, Guido said. Their conditions are stable.

Mr. Ed, a regal white horse in his 30s, will now be able to live out the rest of his days in comfort after being neglected for years.

"He had a severe injury, the vet thinks, probably years ago," Guido said. "He's been in a lot of pain for a very long time, so he will stay here and live out the rest of his days. For now, our goal is just to feed them, love them, give them good pain meds and just keep them happy."

A horse named Mr. Ed was just one of hundreds of animals rescued from a property in Shippensburg in early June. Estimated to be in his 30s, Mr. Ed is now being taken care of at Speranza Animal Rescue in Mechanicsburg.

Many of the rescue's 150 volunteers haven't had much sleep since the sick animals have arrived, starting most days at 4 a.m. and working past 9:30 at night. 

"It's emotional, just like losing one after the other, and obviously, we're all exhausted, not just physically but mentally as well," she said. "It's hard; you're trying to do everything you can to save them and it's just not enough."

The local community has made an effort to help in any way possible.

"The volunteers rallied, they were amazing," Guido said. "We were all throwing these dirty, poop-covered, urine-covered, disgusting goats in the back of our SUVs. One girl literally just bought a brand new BMW, and she threw like 20 roosters in the back of it just loose. It was awesome."

More:Over 400 animals rescued from Central Pa. farm; police found multiple bodies 'decaying' on property

More:Bat pillows, koala pouches, crocheted nests: How one Pa. woman is helping Australia

Donations have been flooding in as well. 

"I got a stack of mail last night, and people are donating food, companies are stepping up to donate sheds," she said. "There is a silver lining, they're restoring our faith in humanity. After seeing everybody step up to help these guys, that's pretty cool."

Nearly $80,000 has been donated so far through social media to help with the effort. 

Running Speranza, the Italian word for "hope," for the past nine years is right where Guido wants to be, despite the sad stories that often accompany her rescues.

"I suffer from mental illness," she said. "I have bipolar disorder and depression. So I've always related more with animals than people. They've always been therapeutic to me."

Janine Guido holds an injured pigeon named Bartholomew that was rescued at Speranza Animal Rescue, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Mechanicsburg.

Despite the heartache, Guido can't stay away.

"Knowing that these guys are receiving love and proper nutrition and just proper care in general for the first time," Guido said. "The chickens and rabbits were stacked in crates, 20 or 30 in a crate, for probably two days with no food or water. So seeing them be free, so to speak, to roam around, that's really cool."

The farm’s owner, Barry Lee Orndorff, 64, of Southampton Township, was charged with over 2,000 counts of neglect of food and water, adequate shelter, and medical attention for each animal on the farm. He was arraigned Friday night and released after posting $5,000 bail, according to court documents. 

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 14, before Magisterial District Judge Anthony Adams.

Anyone wishing to make a donation or offer help is encouraged to contact the rescue at 717-609-6020. Feed and timothy hay are needed. Mail donations can be sent to Speranza Rescue at 1216 Brandt Road, Mechanicsburg, Pa. 17055.

Carley Bonk is a Watchdog Reporter for the USA Today Network - Pennsylvania. Her coverage spans across the southcentral region of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at cbonk@publicopinionnews.com or on Twitter at @carls_marie.