Rescued dogs pregnant with 1,500 puppies
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - Rescuers who have saved hundreds of dogs from stinking, filth-choked puppy mills over the past few days have made an eye-popping discovery - most of the animals are pregnant and due to give birth to roughly 1,500 puppies.
Some 600 abused and neglected dogs have been rescued from three different kennels since last weekend, and animal shelters were are already struggling to care for the crush of animals they already have.
Now they know there are many more on the way.
Animal rescue officers say a typical litter for a stressed dog is about three pups, and roughly 500 of the dogs are pregnant.
"We're going to be having puppies born here probably every day as long as they're here," says Animal Services Director Bud Wessman.
It heaps a whole other crisis on top of the one shelters are already struggling with. After the puppies are born, rescuers will be trying to cope with more than 2,000 dogs.
"You can see it on TV and go 'ooh' and 'aah,' but when you walk into something like this ... that's where the reality is," says Teresa Letellier, who took part in the dog rescues.
Deputies and animal control officers conducted several raids on what they call puppy mills in Skagit and Snohomish counties.
They found dogs packed inside tiny crates, living in their own feces, without enough food and water - many with health problems. Conditions were so disgusting they shocked even veteran animal control officers.
And all the dogs will need new homes.
Families and volunteers are rushing in to help - Lorraine Monroe and her daughters want to provide foster care for some of the dogs.
"We need people to step up and help - families and everybody taking a dog or two," Monroe says. "We can really alleviate the problem."
And that problem will only get bigger over the next few months.
Five pugs found together at one puppy mill illustrate the problem, Wessman says.
"All five are in different stages of pregnancy, so they'll be giving birth one a week for the next several weeks," he says.
Most of the dogs currently are being housed at the Skagit County Fairgrounds and the Everett Animal Shelter.
With the cost of veterinary car, medication, grooming and dog food, rescuers estimate it will cost $20 per day to take care of each animal.
"It will break us unless we get help from the public," said Joan Crane, co-founder of S.P.O.T.
Anyone who wants to make an online donation to help pay for the dogs' care may donate to the KOMO Problem Solvers Fund.
No arrests have been made yet, but it is anticipated that animal cruelty charges will be forthcoming, said Will Reichardt, chief criminal deputy with the Skagit County Sheriff's Office.
Animal control officers are asking that anyone who has purchased a dog from the Mountain View kennel belonging to Sundbergs to call the Skagit County Sheriff's office as this information may be important to their investigation.
The contact is Animal Control officer JoHannah Deterding, who can be reached at (360) 336-9450 or at firstname.lastname@example.org