“It's a whole different side of the shelter life,” said Jennifer Austin, Executive Director of the Portsmouth Humane Society.
The rough environments they often come from can make them dangerous to care for.
“You don't know what else has happened while they’ve been there. If people are taking care of them that badly, what else has happened?” said Austin.
It's a risk they're willing to take to help the animals, but Saturday the risk turned into reality for one shelter employee when she was viciously attacked by two dogs.
The dogs were seized from a home last week for inadequate care.
According to police, they were in deplorable conditions and one had a skin condition that needed treatment.
They were seized by animal control officers and brought to the shelter.
An employee had cared for them for a day or two with no problems, but something changed Saturday morning after she finished feeding them and was putting them back in their kennel.
“The male pit bull just grew unhappy and attacked the worker. He unfortunately attacked her pretty badly, and a female also joined in on the attack,” said Austin.
The woman's wrist was broken and she had numerous puncture wounds and other injuries. She spent three days in the hospital.
The dogs had to be euthanized.
The woman is now home recovering, and despite the trauma she went through, Austin says the employee plans to come back to continue her work caring for animals.
“She's very resilient, wonderful lady,” said Austin.