AR-News: (US) 119 dogs and one horse confiscated from breeders

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Sun Jun 13 18:20:34 EDT 2004


Source:  Great Falls Tribune

Saturday, June 12, 2004 

119 dogs confiscated from Hobson breeders
By KAREN OGDEN
Tribune Regional Editor 


LEWISTOWN -- At least 119 filthy, neglected dogs and one horse were seized 
from a Hobson-area puppy mill Thursday, including 13 dogs that were living in a 
doublewide mobile home with a family, according to the Judith Basin County 
Sheriff's office. 

Deputies found the dogs Thursday while acting on two search warrants, one for 
the trailer in Hobson and another for a ranch in the Benchland area roughly 
10 miles northeast of town. 

Volunteers and authorities worked in a downpour until after 11 p.m. Thursday 
night, loading the dogs into a convoy of horse trailers and pickup trucks 
bound for the Lewistown fairgrounds. 

The dogs included roughly 20 breeds, from poodles to Saint Bernards, although 
some were so soiled and matted they were beyond recognition, said Dave Pauli, 
director of the Humane Society's Northern Rockies regional office in 
Billings. 

"The horse was in a small enclosure standing fairly deeply in muck," he said. 


No charges have been filed pending an investigation, said Judith Basin 
Sheriff's Deputy Jon Schmitt, who declined to release further details on the case. 

Pauli said the dogs' two owners are related. 

Many of the dogs at the ranch site were kept outdoors, County Commissioner 
Jerome Kolar said. 

"We had a shepherd giving birth in a muddy area, and we had to move it in to 
a kennel within one of the barns," he said. "It wasn't a pretty sight." One of 
the four puppies was stillborn. 

A team of about 15 volunteers worked with officials Friday to settle the dogs 
into horse stalls at the fairgrounds, as a veterinarian assessed their 
health. 

"The dogs are pretty much all cleaned up now and looking pretty nice," Kolar 
said. "It's come a long way since last night." 

Most of the dogs didn't appear to be sick, Pauli said. 

"Some were said to be in fair but filthy condition," he said. "As far as 
parasites and other problems, we don't have a real handle on that yet." 

He described the Hobson operation as a "high-volume" breeding facility for 
pet stores. 

"There were everything from shepherds to chows to basset hounds," Kolar said. 
"One appeared to have coyote in it or something of that nature." 

The case started with complaints from people who bought sickly dogs from pet 
stores in Billings, Pauli said. 

Officials said one family bought a miniature pinscher mix that was only five 
weeks old, three weeks younger than the sale age required by the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture. 

"It caused a whole series of health problems that the people spent several 
hundred dollars to get treated," Pauli said. 

The sick dogs allegedly were traced back to the Hobson facility. 

The case comes a year and a half after U.S. customs inspectors seized more 
than 190 diseased, hungry collies at the Canadian border near Shelby. 

Over the next nine months, as the court case against their owners dragged on, 
the dogs' home at the Shelby fairgrounds and later in Great Falls became 
known as "Camp Collie." 

Volunteers spent "untold hours" and $167,000 in donated money caring for the 
dogs, Toole County Commissioner Allan Underdal said. 

However, the state Legislature has since passed a law requiring animal owners 
in neglect cases to post bond each month to cover the animals' care, Pauli 
said. 

"In the past it was always to the dog owners' benefit to drag the case out," 
Pauli said. "Now the cost of care is put back on the owner." 

The dogs confiscated near Hobson Thursday cannot be placed with adoptive 
families unless the owners relinquish their rights. 

Unless charges are filed, it's possible they could be returned to their 
owners. 

Also stemming from the collie case was a new law making cruelty to a group of 
10 or more animals a felony. 

But "it's still premature to even guess what might happen," Pauli said. 

The Humane Society sent 16 large kennels left over from Camp Collie to 
Lewistown Friday and planned to send more supplies Saturday, Pauli said. 

Expenses probably will include the hiring of a manager and one staff person 
to care for the dogs, he said. 

"The upkeep of these dogs while they're in the county's hands is going to be 
quite horrendous" in terms of cost, Kolar said. 

Judith Basin County may have to build a shelter and move the dogs back from 
Lewistown to care for them, Kolar said. 

The county has set up a "Cause for Paws" fund at Basin State Bank in Stanford 
for medical costs and other immediate needs. 

As of Friday, there were enough volunteers at the fairgrounds to handle the 
dogs, including the Cascade County Humane Society and the Pet Assistance League 
of Lewistown. 

But more may be needed as the situation plays out, Kolar said. 

"The Humane Society volunteers and all the volunteers here, they're just 
putting tremendous effort into this. It's awe-inspiring," said Schmidt, with the 
sheriff's department. "We'd have been far up the river without these people. At 
the one place where we seized over 100 animals we had volunteers from all 
over with horse trailers and pickups, just helping hands." 

Cindy James, co-coordinator of Camp Collie in Great Falls, was stunned at 
Friday's news. 

"To think that something like that can happen again so soon after the 
resolution of Camp Collie -- I'm just stunned really," she said. "But one thing Camp 
Collie taught us is that people really pull together and come out to help from 
all walks of life." 

Ogden can be reached by e-mail at kogden at greatfal.gannett.com, or by phone at 
(406) 791-6536 or (800) 438-6600. 

Originally published Saturday, June 12, 2004



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