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UPDATE: 'Appalling:' Nearly 170 Dogs Seized From Worth County Kennel

November 13, 2018 09:09 AM

(ABC 6 News) -- Nearly 170 dogs were seized from the White Fire Kennel near Manly Monday, nearly a year after law enforcement first became aware of possible mistreatment.

The Worth County Sheriff's Office and the ASPCA spent much of Monday removing the dogs -- all Samoyeds -- from dirty, overcrowded kennels, officials said. In a news release, the ASPCA said: "many of the dogs were found in filthy dilapidated kennels in below freezing temperatures with minimal protection from the elements." Some of the dogs are fearful and undersocialized, the organization said, prompting them to call the conditions "appalling" and "deplorable."

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Photos sent to ABC 6 News by the ASPCA show nearly a dozen dogs in two small kennels, their fur matted and dirty.

A Long Investigation

After months of conversations with the kennel's owner, Worth County Sheriff Dan Fank said his office reached out to the ASPCA for help with the next steps.

"We've been looking into it for about a year, trying to work with the owners of the property to relinquish more of the dogs and slow down the operation and get it cleaned up, but we met a lot of resistance," Fank said. "That's when we finally called the ASPCA and had them and their affiliates come in and help us out."

Records show officials have been aware of problems at White Fire for months. The Iowa Department of Agriculture's Animal Industry Bureau conducted four inspections at the kennel since April 2018; in all four investigations, they found items of concern, including a lack of clean water, adequate grooming and veterinary care and buildups of grime.

Additionally, the state determined there were not enough staff members to care for all 170 dogs, saying in a report from a May 31 inspection that the "number of dogs are too high for one person to provide sufficient [sic] care."

Fank said White Fire was a licensed commercial dog breeder at one time but their license is no longer valid.

What Comes Next?

Due to high demand for ASPCA resources stemming from natural disasters across the country, Monday was the first time a crew could make it to Worth County, Fank said. When they arrived, it took nearly 60 people to load up the dogs and take them to an ASPCA shelter for care.

"We have sheltering experts, medical experts, and a behaviorist who will start taking care of these guys around the clock trying to get them healthy," Tim Rickey, the vice president of the group's field investigation and response unit, said. "Then we have to resolve ownership ultimately through court."

A number of organizations are partnering with the ASPCA to shelter the dogs, including the Humane Society of North Iowa, Nebraska Humane Society and Veterinary Centers of America.

Rickey said it's too soon to say when the dogs could be up for adoption but said he hopes some will remain in the region to find new homes nearby.

As of Monday afternoon, White Fire's owner has not been charged with a crime, Fank said, but animal cruelty charges are pending.

ABC 6 News attempted to reach the kennel's owner by phone Monday evening; that message has not been returned as of Monday night.

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NORTHWOOD, Iowa (AP) - Officials say nearly 170 dogs showing signs of neglect in filthy kennels have been seized from an overcrowded puppy mill in northern Iowa.
    
A news release on the Worth County Sheriff's Office website says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took the animals away for medical and other care after deputies served a warrant Monday. It described the dogs - all Samoyeds - as "fearful and undersocialized."
    
Sheriff Dan Fank has not returned a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
    
Officials say the dogs were kept in kennels that provided minimal protection from the elements and that they had no access to clean water.
    
Animal neglect charges are pending.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
 

KAAL-TV

(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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