Three shelters in Red Deer are nursing almost 50 dogs back to health following the largest seizure of neglected dogs in Alberta’s history.
Alberta Animal Services, Red Deer SPCA and Klassic Kennels are caring for the canines after taking them in nearly two weeks ago.
Erica Coomber, Alberta Animal Services shelter administrator, said the dogs were severely underweight, malnourished and parasite-ridden when they arrived on Jan. 14.
The shelter is caring for 22 dogs, a mix of mostly adult large breed dogs, including Irish wolf hounds, sheepdogs, malemutes and komodors.
“They were literally skin and bones,” said Coomber. “You could see their whole skeletal structure.”
The animals were among the 201 dogs seized from a rural property outside of Milk River in Southern Alberta in two stages by the SPCA.
Sixty dogs were voluntarily handed over on Dec. 23 and the remaining 141 were seized through a search warrant on Jan.13. A puppy and an adult dog with untreatable medical issues have since died.
Jim deBoon, of Klassic Kennels, is taking care of 14 dogs at the north-end facility.
“The dogs were in overall poor health,” said deBoon. “They were nervous. They were scared. But they are rebounding very quickly and they are doing well.”
Coomber said in addition to be being malnourished and underweight, the canines had a laundry list of parasites, including tapeworms, roundworms, giardia and mange. The shelters have been dealing with the health issues.
“They will need a lot of work,” said Coomber. “They have lived outside their whole life. They don’t know how to be a dog. They are just learning to play.”
Roland Lines, Alberta SPCA spokesperson, said the dogs did not have sufficient protection, particularly for winter conditions.
“Most of them were tied on chains that were staked in the yard so they were just finding shelter under abandoned vehicles and trailers and whatever they could find,” said Lines. “It was horrible conditions for these dogs. There was no doubt these dogs were in distress.”
Lines said they have encountered situations where dogs are kept in such conditions, but never on this scale.
The Alberta SPCA enlisted the help of the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, which reached out to animal care facilities across the province to hold and care for the dogs because of the large number.
Deanna Thompson, executive director of the society, said the agency deals with cases of neglect and this is by far one of the worst and the most extensive.
Thompson said all the animals were emancipated.
“We had one with a broken leg,” she said. “One with a broken jaw. We have another dog missing part of his leg so he will need a full leg amputation.”
The SPCA were required by law to hold for the animals seized under the search warrant for 10 days. The 10-day hold expired on Jan. 24 and on Jan. 25, the ownership of all the dogs was turned over to Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society.
Once the dogs are spayed, neutered and in good enough health, they will ready to be adopted. Some of the dogs are already at the Petland Adoption Centre in Red Deer.
Both Coomber and deBoon said the dogs are putting on weight and starting to become socialized and less nervous.
“We are looking for people who are willing to give as much time as they can to these dogs so they can rehab,” said Coomber.
Charges are pending against the property owner.
The SPCA officers were called to the property after a tip from the public.