You know about me and dogs if you spend any time reading this weblog at all.
Here’s something you probably haven’t heard, as it happened way up here in the northern most Pacific Northwest. Skagit County sheriffs raided a puppy mill yesterday and found 400 animals, mostly small breeds, in deplorable conditions. Confined to cages filled with feces, starved, matted, sick, with infections and diseases. They found seven dogs that had died as much as three months ago in a cage. They took only 200 of them away.
More than 200 dogs seized from Skagit Co. puppy mill
Biggest dog seizure in Skagit history; animals not up for adoption yet
SKAGIT VALLEY HERALD
Authorities seized more than 200 dogs in two separate incidents in Skagit County Wednesday, and the owners of both kennels could face animal cruelty charges, authorities said.
More than 150 dogs, filthy and crowded into small spaces, were seized from a Little Mountain area home outside Mount Vernon after the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office linked the homeowner to a ring of Snohomish County puppy mills.
Sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Will Reichardt said it was the biggest dog seizure in Skagit County’s history. He estimated that another 200 dogs were left behind because they appeared healthier, cleaner and better cared for. Logistics played a role in deciding how many animals to take, he said.
Most of the dogs taken from the home of Marjorie and Richard Sundberg are being kept temporarily at the Skagit County Fairgrounds.
The mostly small “designer dogs” were found covered in feces and urine and packed into small wire crates, said Teresa Letellier, a volunteer with the Burlington-based organization Saving Pets One at a Time or S.P.O.T. Many of the dogs imprisoned themselves into still smaller spaces yet, she said, crouching into bins in their crates because the rest of the space was so piled with feces.
Seven dogs — puppies and adults — were also found dead inside of a bin, Reichardt said. They likely died about three weeks ago, he said, but cause of death has not been determined.
At least four dogs were taken to area vet clinics, Letellier said. Three suffered from dehydration or lethargy and a fourth was found wearing a T-shirt, which when lifted revealed an infection and open sores, she said. Another dog and her litter were taken to the home of a S.P.O.T. volunteer, Letellier said.
In the other incident Wednesday, sheriff’s deputies seized about 40 miniature Australian Shepherds and Italian greyhounds and two ponies from a home near Big Lake, Reichardt said.
The Big Lake case was not connected to the larger seizure at the Sundberg home nor to a string of Snohomish County searches.
No charges had been filed in any of the Skagit or Snohomish County cases as of Wednesday night. But the Sundbergs and the Big Lake kennel operator could face animal cruelty charges, a felony, Reichardt said.
The Sundberg kennel has long been known to Skagit County officials because it has been operating for years without the necessary permits and has infuriated some neighbors. A county animal control officer had previously visited the breeding operation without requiring any dogs to be taken away.
However, past counts put the number of dogs closer to 150 to 200, far short of the roughly 400 dogs and puppies found Wednesday at the Sundbergs’ operation.
Reichardt said some of the dogs may have recently been brought to the Sundberg kennel from a home in Snohomish County, which was one of three homes searched recently by authorities there.
The three homes appear to belong to two of the Sundbergs’ daughters, according to Vicki Lubrin, licensing and animal control services manager for Snohomish County. Lubrin said a tip led the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to a home owned by one daughter near the town of Gold Bar on Friday.
There, they seized 155 dogs, four cats and three parrots, Lubrin said. Many of the animals were sick, and 87 of the dogs were crammed into an attic, she said.
Deputies found evidence at that house that led them to two other locations, Lubrin said. One was a home owned by another Sundberg daughter where there were 44 dogs, Lubrin said, but all appeared in adequate condition and were left in her care.
The third home, which belonged to the same daughter who owned the Gold Bar-area property, had no dogs on site, Lubrin said, but there were signs that animals had been there.
Reichardt said witnesses saw dogs moved from that home in the middle of the night, and evidence found there suggested they were taken to Marjorie Sundberg’s home.
Reichardt, sheriff’s deputies, S.P.O.T. volunteers and animal control officers from neighboring jurisdictions were greeted with the smell of urine and feces when the arrived at the Sundberg kennel Tuesday.
Inside two buildings, as well as the Sundberg residence and an outbuilding, they found hundreds of dogs — some without food, water or heat — locked into crates encrusted with excrement.
“The urine smell was so strong it hurt your nose,” Patrol Deputy Rhonda Lasley said as she nestled a weeks-old Chihuahua inside her coat at the fairgrounds.
She called the tiny sleeping dog “Justice.”
For now, none of the dogs are up for adoption and still legally belong to the Sundbergs, Reichardt said. But S.P.O.T. is looking for experienced volunteers and foster homes to care for the dogs temporarily.
Letellier said donations of food, supplies, money and grooming help are also needed for the Sundbergs’ dogs and those seized from the Big Lake home. Call 360-336-5388 and leave a message with your name and contact information if you can help.