Rescue Group Saves Dogs Abandoned In The Everglades

Dozens Of Former House Pets Being Dumped By People Who Can No Longer Afford To Keep Them

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – It's a growing problem in this down economy. Family pets are getting too expensive and their owners are abandoning them to fend for themselves.

Here is South Florida, dozens of dogs are being abandoned in the Everglades and a group of women are on a mission to save them.

Maria Hagen is one of four women who devote their time to finding and rescuing so-called swamp dogs, household pets thrown out into the wild.

"People are dumping their animals like yesterday's trash," Hagen said. "Humanity has gone down the drain."

She has been working to catch these dogs, and find them new homes for them.

Many of the dogs have been found on the outskirts of the Everglades National Park in Homestead. The dogs of all breeds and sizes are just wandering wild.

All the women have full-time jobs, but they say saving these dogs has become their passion.

Mirta Maltes, a ranger at the the park, formed the group with her friends about a year ago.

"I remember this one black Lab, a few years ago, used to sit out by the park's main entrance. Every time a pickup truck approached, he would get really happy and then he would get sad as it passed by because he thought it was the owner," Maltes said.

The dogs have turned up in greater numbers as South Florida residents abandon homes they can no longer afford.

One in five homes in Miami-Dade County is said to be in foreclosure. Making matters worse, many animal shelters are too full to take more unwanted animals.

If you want to help the group, check out the website or e-mail

They need donations to keep their work going and families to foster the animals until forever homes can be found.