Rescued dogs recovering from puppy mill
LAKE COUNTY – A shy male poodle didn’t have a name when he was rescued from LDR Kennels on Dublin Gulch Road by Life Savers Animal Rescue of Lake County in July — but he did have a critical skin infection.
“He was one of the original four with immediate medical needs,” said Lynette Duford of LSAR. She was able to take those four dogs when the Lake County Sheriff ’s Department searched the property with a warrant. Only the dogs in life-threatening medical condition could legally be taken.
One hundred and six dogs would have to wait for the court to charge Larry and Nadene Latzke with felony aggravated cruelty to animals. The couple signed a deferred prosecution agreement on Aug. 26 that relinquished custody of the dogs to LSAR.
“We originally estimated that there were 130 (dogs) but we only found 106 when they were seized,” she said.
The poodle’s hair was matted and his toenails were curling under his feet along with that skin infection when he was taken.
“He lived in a wire cage so his feet were sore and raw,” she said.
He was also given a name.
“We named him Taylor after the sheriff ’s deputy that was our primary contact and helped us when we were able to go out and care for the dogs before they were taken,” she said. LSAR went out to the puppy mill as often as possible to clean the dogs and care for them before the court gave them custody.
It was a challenge to come up with 106 names for the dogs, so the volunteers started using the names of people involved with the recovery including local news groups. Jill Valley of KPAX has a dog named after her, and Kent Luetzen of the Valley Journal also had a dog named after him.
Duford said part of the reason the dogs were in such bad condition was that one man in his 70s was taking care of more than 100 dogs. She said it takes her and about one hundred volunteers all day to care for the dogs that were assigned to three different locations. But she isn’t excusing the condition the dogs lived in. She said in her mind, the problem was about greed.
Taylor the poodle is in recovery. “He is going to be just fine physically,” she said.
“Psychologically he has a ways to go. He is reserved and very shy.”
Many people volunteered to provide foster homes for the dogs, but they are not officially adopted yet.
“They are now all in foster homes, but they have to be spayed and neutered before they can be adopted,” she said of a court order. “They are all so stressed that we want to wait to do that.”
The dogs also need their teeth cleaned or removed. High stress and poor nutrition caused many of the dogs’ teeth to fall out.
“They have horrific dental issues,” she said. “They ate hard food from automatic dog feeders and the ones without teeth had to just swallow the food.”
A Papillion mix named Sara is recovering from a cesarean section she had after being rescued. Her puppies weren’t completely developed and didn’t make it.
“She is just too old,” she said.
“She lost her last tooth and the puppies. She couldn’t walk or stand when we got her. She had no muscle tone in her legs and her calcium levels were so low she didn’t have bone strength and that happens from being bred over and over. The puppies took her calcium first, and she didn’t have time to recover.”
Sara is now able to take a walk around the yard at her foster home. “She crashes for several hours after her walk,” she said.
Other dogs are not doing so well.
“Some of them are depressed and retreated,” she said.
The majority of the dogs are recovering.
“They are doing better than we could have hoped for,” she said.
“When we got them they wouldn’t walk on grass, but after a few days, they figured it out. Now many of the dogs are playing, socializing and soaking up the love. It’s quite remarkable how well they are doing.”
LSAR is collecting donations to help with the cost of dental care, spaying and neutering, and care for the pregnant dogs.
“A little dog broke her leg after stepping off one step,” she said.
“She didn’t have depth perception, and she needed emergency surgery, so we need to pay for that.”
Many local veterinarians are donating services.
“The help has been great, and we know they can’t do 106 dogs, so we will still have some cost with that,” she said.
LSAR has tools for making donations on their website at LSAR. org and they have a GoFund Me site. Checks can also be made out to LSAR and sent to P.O. Box 643, Polson, MT 59860.
Duford said people can call legislators and ask them to change the laws concerning puppy mills. She suggested legislation be created to separate domestic animals from livestock.
“This is unacceptable that this is happening in our state,” she said. “Puppy mill legislation has been shut down every session because the dogs are considered commercial like livestock and they don’t want to hurt the livestock business. We need to make a distinction to protect these dogs.”