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Dogs removed, case against puppy mill owners dismissed

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POLSON — A couple charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals each signed a deferred prosecution agreement Friday, Aug. 26, dismissing their case and relinquishing custody of about 130 dogs to Life Savers Animal Rescue or the Lake County Sheriff ’s office. Per the agreement, Nadene and Larry Latzke of LDR Kennels on Dublin Gulch Road in the St. Ignatius area were allowed to keep six dogs that as of Friday resided inside their home as pets. All six dogs must be neutered or spayed within two months. A white schnauzer must be given to their daughter within two weeks.

The agreement stands for 10 years, during which time the Latzkes may not possess, own, or have custody of more than the six agreed-upon dogs. If one dog dies, they may not replace it with another dog.

The state agreed to dismiss the case without prejudice upon signing and relinquishing the 130 dogs, which happened about 3 p.m. the same day.

Both Nadene and Larry must pay $100 each to the Lake County Attorney’s Office for the cost of prosecution. If either Nadene or Larry violates any terms of the agreement within the 10-year period, the state may re-prosecute the matter.

Lynette Duford of Life Savers Animal Rescue got a call about noon on Friday that the Latzkes and attorneys were getting together to sign over the dogs. Within a couple of hours, 20 folks arrived at the Latzkes to remove the canines.

“We had a plan in place,” Duford said, explaining that a couple of weeks ago Duford contacted veterinarians in Missoula, Bigfork and Kalispell, hoping to increase their base of volunteer foster homes.

“We were able to have a group from Missoula and our key group from Polson,” Duford said.

With about 25 dogs currently at her place, 30 at Karen Duty’s home and the others at various foster homes, the dogs are all on the same feeding and outdoor schedules. When taken out three times a day, many dogs just lay on their bellies, Duford said, as volunteers attempt to socialize and play with the dogs.

“They are scared, they’re stressed. They don’t know anything other than being in that cage,” Duford said. “Although we are trying to help, when we take them out, the sounds, the people … it’s stressful for them. They cling to each other.”

Although timid and shy, most are not snapping, although a few have reacted that way out of fear, according to Duford.

“There’s just a lot of work to be done,” Duford said.

Because the Latzkes would not give Life Savers the dogs’ immunization records, all the canines will need vaccinations, spaying or neutering and microchipping before they can be adopted out.

“We’re not going to promise anyone a purebred,” Duford said. “The Latzkes did a lot of mixing and matching.”

In the menagerie of small breeds includes a variety of Yorkies, Chihuahuas, Lhasa Apsos, Maltese, Schnauzers, Scotties, Papillions, Shiatsus, Pomeranians, Poodles, and two pugs in very poor condition.

“The pugs are extremely reliant upon each other, and must stay together,” Duford said.

A pregnant and aging red cocker spaniel, “Sarah,” had just one tooth left when she was rescued. The lone tooth fell out on Sunday, Duford said. Although Sarah’s age is not documented, Duford estimates Sarah is about eight years old, and has likely been bred every heat cycle. In human terms Sarah is 56 years old.

“Imagine a woman being used every time she can (become pregnant),” Duford said.

Some of the foster homes will adopt the dogs they are currently caring for, but most of the rescues will still need homes.

Interested individuals can go to lsar.org to fill out a matchmaking form, an application to foster dogs, and to donate directly through Pay Pal. Donations may also be mailed to P.O. Box 643, Polson, MT 59860.

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