Spokane Humane Society staff members hope some of the more than two dozen dogs rescued from squalid conditions in rural Stevens County earlier this month will be ready to adopt this weekend.
“They’re pretty darn social, considering their situation,” Spokane Humane Society Development Director Kerry Wiltzius said.
The assortment of Pomeranians, Chihuahuas and large mixed-breed dogs were found living on a property near Ford, Wash., by members of the Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary, Wiltzius said.
Two women who lived on the property had recently moved out, according to previous reports. They are suspected of animal hoarding.
The Spokane Humane Society frequently partners with the Colville group, Wiltzius said, and when the call came in that the dogs had been discovered, the Spokane shelter immediately agreed to take them on.
Nancy Rose, shelter manager with the Colville sanctuary, said the majority of the Pomeranians were living in a plywood shed. Volunteers who offered to help with the dogs after they were discovered on Valentine’s Day were stunned by what they found.
“You could literally not breathe,” Rose said of the shed. “You had to walk out with one, take a big breath, then go back in.”
More than a dozen dead dogs were discovered on the property as well.
Many of the older rescued dogs came in with badly matted coats and oral health problems, Spokane Humane Society Executive Director Dave Richardson said. The few puppies that were saved have been placed in foster care.
“For the conditions that they were living in, there weren’t a lot of skin issues,” Richardson said. Groomers were called in to handle the matting, Wiltzius said, and some of the dogs have “weird haircuts” as a result.
The biggest challenge has been house-training the animals, Wiltzius added. Because of the cramped conditions the dogs lived in, they were never taught to wait until they could get outside.
“We’ll be putting together some information packets,” Wiltzius said. “We want people to know this is going to be one of the problems, that they’ll go anywhere.”
Wiltzius said the Humane Society has set Saturday as a tentative date to begin adopting out the dogs to families around Spokane. In the meantime, the shelter, at 6607 N. Havana St., continues to accept donations of dog food and other “wish list” items found on its website to aid the transition process for the dogs.
While they’re in a safe place now, Rose said she knows there’s still a lot of work to be done to make sure the dogs find permanent homes. She’s optimistic: “There will be a happy ending, but it will take a little bit of time.”