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NEW VIDEO: 170 Dogs Seized in Wheatland Recovering in Casselton - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

NEW VIDEO: 170 Dogs Seized in Wheatland Recovering in Casselton

NEW VIDEO: 170 Dogs Seized in Wheatland Recovering in Casselton

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UPDATED: Wednesday, July 17 5:15 p.m.

It was our first chance to see, in person, some of the 170 dogs seized from a farm near Wheatland, North Dakota.

They used to live in filth with several dogs to a kennel. Each dog has been checked over and was found to have health problems, so now the treatment process begins.

And veterinarians are not dealing with just 168 dogs, they are working with 174 because one of them had puppies Tuesday.

From a week ago when the dogs were seized from the farm to now, there is a world of a difference. Dr. Trevor Bjerke with Casselton Veterinary Service says, "Everybody is attached to these dogs. What you see is what you get. They're playful. They're fun. They're great dogs to be around."

Though the work to help these dogs is far from over says Bjerke, explaining, "Most of the dogs have severe matting problems, hair coat problems. Most of them have ear infections. Most of them, we found some heart murmurs. We found some hip dysplasia, luxating patellas. Common things in small dog problems."

Internal blood work has not been completed, so veterinarians do not know if there are more problems, and, of course, with all the problems, come the very high medical costs for treatment and boarding.

Cass County Assistant State's Attorney Leah Viste says, "Even if an approximate cost were $18 a night for these dogs, a 14-day period for 170 dogs would be over $40,000."

Right now, the dogs remain in quarantine for another week. They are still in the custody of the sheriff's office until a court hearing decides where they will go.

The owner has until Friday to decide if he wants them back. We were able to speak with the him off camera. While he did not say much, he did say he is not sure whether to fight to get his dogs back.

County officials say they are just glad they were able to get them out of the farm for the time being. "Had the dogs been left there, whether they would've survived or not I can't say. What I do know is that the conditions were extremely hot, and the days were getting hotter," says Viste.

A court hearing has not been set yet. County officials say they are still not sure if criminal charges will be filed against the owner of the dogs.

The fund to help cover costs, Operation Cass County Rover Rescue, is between $15,000 and $19,000, but staff at the Casselton Veterinary Service say they will need a lot more.

You can also apply with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue to foster the dogs after the quarantine period is over. Adoptions will not be certain until the court decides where the dogs will end up.


UPDATED: Monday, July 15

The 170 dogs taken from a rural Wheatland, North Dakota are making their recovery.  The Casselton Veterinary Clinic is grooming and nursing the dogs back to health.

The dogs seized were small breeds such as Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, Shih Tzu, and mixed breeds. The dogs range in age from a few days old to more than ten years old. The veterinarians at Casselton Veterinary Clinic are optimistic most of the dogs will survive and be available for adoption.

Since the Casselton Vet took the dogs in, donations from across the valley have poured in to help. As of Monday at 4:00 p.m. more than $11,000 has been donated.

If you'd like to help donations can be made at any Bremer Bank. Make checks out to "Operation Cass County Rover Rescue in Care of Casselton Veterinary Clinic."

UPDATED: Friday, July 12, 5:50 p.m.

We have confirmed most of the dogs after their 14-day quarantine period will be medically cleared for adoption. It may take a little longer because of the court process.

4 Luv of Dog Rescue will be handling the adoptions. If you want to adopt one of them, they are asking you wait because the county does not have the dogs yet. But if you would like to foster a dog, you call them and start the paperwork now.

Here is their website:  http://www.4luvofdog.org/applications/preadoptionapp.html

Also the Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks is accepting donations for those dogs on behalf of the Casselton Veterinary Service.
     
They need paper towels, newspapers and blankets.

If you would like to help, you can drop off donations between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The address is: 4375 N. Washington St. in Grand Forks.

Of course, you can still make monetary donations at any Bremer bank.

Make checks out to: "Operation Cass County Rover Rescue in Care of Casselton Veterinary Clinic."

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The Casselton Veterinary Clinic says it has more than 170 dogs seized from a Wheatland, North Dakota home and is treating them.

The dogs seized were small breeds such as Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, Shih Tzu, and mixed breeds. The dogs range in age from a few days old to more than 10-years-old. The Cass County Sheriff's Department says they were stacked in portable kennels as many as three high, with five or more dogs to a kennel. Some of the dogs were standing in five inches of waste.

The veterinarians at Casselton Veterinary Clinic are optimistic most of the dogs will survive and be available for adoption. First, they must go through a 14-day quarantine because of their living conditions, and because their records were poorly kept or didn't exist.

The dogs are being checked one-by-one. Many of them have poor dental health, need to be clipped and cleaned. The vets say 140 of the dogs need shaving. Some could hardly move because of all the hair.

"They are not in ideal condition," explains Trevor Bjerke with the Casselton Veterinary Clinic. "They are underweight, and most of them are underweight. The biggest concern that I have is their housing, and their, where they were kept. You can't keep a dog in five inches of stool." 

The costs involved with the seizure and care for them continue to add up, especially the labor costs. Assistant State's Attorney Leah Viste says, "We know that one hour veterinary costs is $239, $279 per hour. We have medical costs, grooming costs.  Grooming is fairly significant in this case.  There's different vaccinations that these animals will need."

During the investigation, it was discovered at least four of the dogs are pregnant, so they could be dealing with more than 200 dogs by the end of this.

Because of the massive amount of animals, the clinic is in need of donations. If you'd like to help donations can be made at any Bremer Bank. Make checks out to "Operation Cass County Rover Rescue in Care of Casselton Veterinary Clinic."

The state veterinarian received an anonymous tip from a person who saw about 20 dogs that the person believed was being neglected.  The deputy went to check it out, and said he was quote: "Shocked when he viewed the conditions."

The 51-year-old Wheatland man has not been arrested or charged. The state's attorney's office is currently gathering more evidence.

Based on state law, the man would face a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a year in jail and a $2,000 dollar fine. Technically, he could be charged a count for each dog.

The man does have the chance to get the dogs back, but he would need to file for that in court, and he would have to prove to a judge the dogs will have proper living conditions.

We spoke with the owner of the farm. It was her son, in his 50's, who owned the dogs. She said he was advertising and selling them as puppies.  "But," the owner says, "When they are no longer little, they don't sell as well."

She says the dogs were good and not vicious, but the number continued to grow when the dogs got older and were not being sold.

The manager at Pets 'R' Inn Shaun Evanson, says they have bought dogs from the Wheatland man before. He tells us the dogs they've received have always been healthy and in good condition.  Pets 'R' Inn is located inside West Acres Mall in Fargo. 

She says the dogs did not roam. They were always fenced up. She also adds that her son kept up with vaccinations and kept them with plenty of water and food.

"They were not abused," she says.  

She continues, "It got harder to keep them groomed when there gets to be so many."

She did not want to go into further details about the dogs because they were her son's. They are mixed breeds.

She says she was at home when the Cass County Sheriff's Office came to take the dogs. She says they were very nice about everything. "I'm not complaining about them," she says. She adds it was probably a good thing they took the dogs. 

The farm location is about three miles northwest of Wheatland, ND. 

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