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Puppy mill dogs brought to San Juan for assistance

A miniature chihuahua takes cautious leave of a carrier Monday at the Friday Harbor animal shelter. Several dogs rescued from overcrowded kennels in the Skagit Valley are recovering in Friday Harbor.   - Ann Templeton Monin
A miniature chihuahua takes cautious leave of a carrier Monday at the Friday Harbor animal shelter. Several dogs rescued from overcrowded kennels in the Skagit Valley are recovering in Friday Harbor.
— image credit: Ann Templeton Monin

The local Animal Protection Society is preparing to care for 12 dogs seized from two puppy mills in Skagit and Snohomish counties last week.

All told, about 600 dogs were seized by authorities. About 80 percent of the dogs are pregnant and some 1,500 puppies are expected to be born in the next few weeks.

On Monday, local APS Director Leslie Byron, board member Jaime Ellsworth and volunteer Lynda Howell picked up the dogs from a rescue group, Saving Pets One at a Time (SPOT) in Burlington. A number of miniature Australian shepherds and other small breeds were brought back to San Juan Island that afternoon.

Each dog weighs between 12-20 pounds.

SPOT is a Skagit County animal rescue group that provides assistance with foster care and adoptions of unwanted pets. SPOT and other shelters in the region have offered support for the dogs seized from the mills.

According to reports in the Skagit Valley Herald and The Seattle Times, authorities seized about 600 dogs in raids of kennels in Skagit and Snohomish counties last week, and the kennel owners could face animal cruelty charges.

According to the news reports, most of the dogs are small breeds — chihuahuas, poodles, shih tzus, and Yorkshire terriers.

Volunteers are needed locally to help care for the dogs being housed at the Friday Harbor Animal Shelter; call 378-2158. Dogs will be in need of homes after all legal issues are resolved.

Jessica Ray and Lisa Moretti, owners of Downtown Dog in Friday Harbor, spent Saturday bathing and blow-drying rescued dogs being cared for at the Burlington Humane Society.

All told, Ray and Moretti cleaned and groomed 40 chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers.

“We packed up our Bow Wow bus with kennels, towels, shampoos and blow dryers,” Ray said.

“Whatever the assignment — whether it be scooping poop, bathing or walking a dog — just do it. It is really very important to these animals.”

Ray described the dogs’ former living conditions: Weak muscles from living in small kennels, matted coats covered in feces and urine, sores on their paws, overgrown toenails, rotting teeth.

“This is what happens to factory farm dogs,” Ray said. “They produce puppies for money, not for love or companionship.”

After a complete cleaning from head to toe, the dogs appeared happy and ready for play.

“It was an amazing transformation,” Ray said. At first, the dogs appeared lethargic and scared, but after a thorough cleaning they began playing with one another.

“They started becoming happy dogs.”

Downtown Dog will be assisting with the cleaning and grooming of other rescued dogs as they arrive on the island.

Ray, Moretti and groomer Melody Rice are dedicated animal rescuers. Moretti assisted in saving animals during Hurricane Katrina and Ray is former director of the Friday Harbor animal shelter.

Islanders can help. The local shelter is in need of supplies, including small-bite dog food, canned dog food, liquid laundry soap and bleach. Monetary donations are being accepted as well.

Call Byron at 378-2158 for more information regarding volunteering, foster care and adoption. Visit www.apsfh.org.

A Web site has been created to raise awareness about puppy mills in Washington state: www.puppyjustice.com.

“Miles For Mutts”
On Valentine’s weekend, several members of the Shaw Island 4-H will walk in a fund-raiser to earn money to buy dog food to donate to the Skagit Valley group S.P.O.T. for the rescued puppy mill dogs.

If you would like to sponsor a 4-H member, send a donation to Shaw Island Pioneers, P.O. Box 111, Shaw Island, WA 98286. Checks should be received by Feb. 12.

For more information, contact Kathy Foley, 468-3506; or Jan Sanburg, 468-4682; evenings between 6-8 p.m.

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