It may take Lightning, a Labradoodle with yellow fur matted by filth, weeks or even months to not shy away from people at the door of his kennel.
Lightning is one of 47 dogs seized Wednesday from an illegal commercial kennel near Deer Park. Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services, or SCRAPS, took custody of the dogs, but had to transfer them to the Spokane Humane Society. SCRAPS’ shelter is full, due in part to the rescue of 39 dogs in early August.
Dave Richardson, the humane society’s executive director, said the agency will examine the dogs, allow them to de-stress and try to teach them to trust the “two-leggeds.”
“It’s the humane thing to do. We don’t always have time or money, but it’s the right thing to do,” Richardson said.
The dogs are mostly Labradoodles, but some are smaller breeds such as Pomeranians and Chihuahuas. The dogs, 19 of which are puppies, vary in their condition. Two Pomeranians, named Teeter and Tot, walked around their kennel with skin showing through in sparse patches of hair on their hind quarters. Richardson said the patches are from flea bites.
Most of the dogs shied from humans at their kennel doors, and they are not leash trained. The Humane Society’s goals for the next few days are to help the dogs calm down, clean and groom them, and check them for medical issues.
The Humane Society staff remained calm with the large influx of dogs, partly because last year they took in 51 American Eskimo dogs from a puppy mill in Kennewick.
Jenna Bell, volunteer coordinator, remembers that emergency and the positive outcome.
“The Eskimos’ turnaround was amazing. Dogs are forgiving,” Bell said.
The Humane Society received the dogs around 11 a.m. SCRAPS officials said this is one of the largest seizures in the agency’s history. Along with the help of volunteers from the Humane Evacuation Animal Rescue Team, they started removing the dogs from the home around 8:30 a.m. SCRAPS Director Nancy Hill said they received a tip about the animals and were in contact with the owner to conduct an investigation.
“The owner has been very cooperative,” Hill said. “They felt it best to relinquish the animals.”
Spokane County code regulates licensing and housing standards for animals. Owners with at least four adult dogs used for commercial purposes need a commercial kennel license, as does anyone who owns eight or more dogs. Owners with fewer than eight dogs who do not gain profit from the dogs are not required to have a commercial kennel license, Hill said.
The dogs seized Wednesday lived in a residence with three people, although SCRAPS dealt with just one person, Hill said. The owner kept the dogs inside the home and in a fenced backyard. SCRAPS allowed the owner to keep four dogs but required that they be spayed and neutered. Out of the 47 dogs, most of the adults were not spayed or neutered, contributing to the problem, Hill said.
The Humane Society spends about $10 per day per dog, and it takes an average of 30 days to get the animals ready for adoption, Richardson said. Before adoption, each pet must go through a certification process. With these latest rescues, it may take longer, but “we’re going to get all these guys homes,” Richardson said.