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HAYDEN – The Kootenai Humane Society picked up 66 dogs from a hoarding situation in Kellogg on Monday.
Terriers, Jack Russells and Chihuahuas, puppies to adults, were among the breeds that huddled in kennel groups, some poking their noses through the fences, some barking and trying to escape their holding areas, and others crouching in the back.
Debbie Jeffrey, managing director of KHS, shook her head in disbelief as she took a short break from helping the newcomers on Tuesday.
She said it was by far the most dogs that KHS rescued from a single case.
“I’ve never seen anything so bad,” she said.
Kellogg Police Sgt. Paul Twidt said the dogs were discovered Monday when the landlord of the house on W. Mullan Ave. 418 visited the property together with the animal inspector Sheri Morgan from Kellogg in order to make a tour after several notifications to the tenant.
The night before, the landlord was informed by SMS from the tenant’s phone that several dogs were living in the apartment and needed help.
The house was reportedly completely dirty. The tenant was gone.
Marcia Biotti, President of Twidt and Shoshone Pet Rescue, arrived on site to help process the animals.
“They’re all pretty much alike, so they’ve probably been keeping them there for a while,” Twidt said. “It’s a pretty classic case of hoarding.”
To the surprise of the respondents, most of the dogs showed they were well fed and even had their nails trimmed. While it was evident that the dogs had run around the house, Twidt suspected that they were mostly kept on the first floor, as KPD neighbors said they had no idea that the resident of the house had a single animal.
The resident of the house is missing and has not been contacted. Twidt said the KPD plans to bring charges of cruelty to animals.
Morgan volunteered her private truck and horse trailer to transport the dogs to KHS.
Of the original 85 dogs discovered, 83 survived. One was dead in the house and had to be euthanized. Some of the dogs were placed with foster families. Most of them are at KHS.
All nine cats were taken in by the Silver Valley Cat Wranglers.
Jeffrey said the woman is believed to have left the house on Thursday and left some food on the floor for the dogs. She said the woman was not allowed to have pets. Jeffrey was surprised that no one reported that many in one house.
“How this woman kept 85 dogs quiet and nobody heard anything bark, I don’t know,” she said. “Nobody knew she had dogs. How can you keep so many dogs quiet? “
But the dogs sent to the KHS, including some older ones, were generally in good health.
“You won’t believe how cute they are. They are just the cutest little things. You just want to hold them all, “Jeffrey said. “We don’t have to spend time getting them used to people. I don’t know how she did it. “
“The normal way of hoarding cases is to work with a temper and sickness and get them to trust you,” Jeffrey continued. “These guys weren’t abused.”
KHS employees spent Monday evenings treating each dog to indicate its age, gender, and condition. Four were pregnant. Thirty-three were male.
“We really didn’t have any problems with them,” said Jeffrey. “That’s not common when you have so many dogs in a hoarding situation.”
She said an animal shelter in Thompson Falls, Mont., Will house 15 of the dogs.
“That leaves us with a lot more to take care of,” she said.
She said the case is an example of why KHS needs a new animal shelter so it can have special rooms for isolation and the pups instead of putting them all in kennels in rooms with other dogs.
Jeffrey said all dogs need to be fixed and some may be ready for adoption this weekend.
She said they are busy looking after so many small dogs, but volunteers have increased.
“This is only the first day,” she said.
Vicky Nelson, KHS development manager, said they had started calling the shelter’s waiting area “Route 66”.
“There are 66 dogs in there, so we have to come up with 66 names,” she said.