Fifteen of more than 500 dogs seized from a rural Southeastern Oregon home were undergoing care, treatment and evaluation Friday at the Humane Society of Central Oregon shelter, one of several facilities around the West that took in and plan to adopt out the neglected, malnourished animals.
When the dogs arrived in Bend Thursday afternoon, among those waiting to greet them was veterinarian Dr. Greg Ertz, who provided immediate care to an anemic, extremely emaciated terrier mix, named Benny, who weighed in at just eight pounds. Another terrier mix, named Rusty, was going to Eastside Animal Hospital Friday for X-rays and further diagnosis of a possible back problem, said Troy Kerstetter, shelter manager.
Ertz and fellow veterinarian Dr. Byron Maas conducted six hours of examinations of the dogs, all suffering from malnourishment, must underweight, Kerstetter said.
The dogs are primarily Chihuahua, terrier, schnauzer and Jack Russell terrier mixes in a range of colors, from tan and gray to black and white. The largest dog weighed in at 20 pounds, and the only female was just seven pounds, officials said.
“All of the dogs are shy and reserved, but doing quite well, considering the upheaval in their lives,” Kerstetter said of the Bend transplants, most of which are 3 to 5 years old, with two under 1 year and a couple 8-10 years old. “These are small breeds, so they will have many more years of love to give.”
Six of the dogs have treatable skin disorders that will require care for about 4-6 weeks. A couple have what Kerstetter called “behavior issues that need further evaluation.” But eight of the dogs are fairly healthy and outgoing, and will be the first ready for adoption.
All of the dogs are expected to do well after proper nutrition, de-worming, special foods, treatment baths and some medication, Kerstetter said. “The greatest need for these dogs is the compassion, patience and understanding necessary for a successful adjustment into a typical household, which is a whole new world for dogs that came from a home where the dogs outnumbered humans 500 to two.”
Shelter officials said the dogs would continue to be evaluated and treated over the weekend by Humane Society staff, as Karen Marcotte of Doggie Day Spa will continue bathing and grooming the dogs.
Bend shelter may do lottery, if interest in dogs is high
Adoption applications are being accepted at the shelter, located at 61770 S.E. 27th St. The dogs will be available for adoption at varied times, based on their health and socialization skills.
Two methods of adopting out the dogs were being considered, depending on the amount of response. If the number of interested would-be dog owners is not overwhelming, approved adopters will be taken in order of approved applications. But if there are a larger number, a lottery of approved applicants will be held, Kerstetter said.
Photos and information about the dogs are available at the Humane Society’s Website, at http://www.hsco.org , and people seeking more information can contact the agency at 382-3537.
More than 130 of the dogs taken from the home were destroyed due to poor health or aggression, officials said. Another 76 of the dogs arrived Thursday at the Oregon Humane Society’s shelter in Portland, while the Greenhill Humane Society in Eugene took 21 of the dogs.
About 120 dogs remain at the Second Chance Animal Shelter in Payette, Idaho, and are expected to be ready for adoption in about 10 days, said Sarah Sharette, the shelter’s director. She said about 75 percent of the dogs suffered from dehydration, and more than half were extremely thin when they were removed from the home.
“All these animal-welfare agencies are working in concert for the benefit of these homeless pets. It’s a very happy ending,” said Portland shelter spokeswoman Barbara Baugnon told The Oregonian. “I think they are going to be snapped up.”
The Bend shelter had offered to take 30 or more of the popular small-breed dogs. But then, Kerstetter said, “some of the big hitters” in the shelter business chipped in to take in dozens of the rescued pooches – not just in Oregon, but as far away as the Boulder, Colo., Humane Society and the “Dumb Friends League” in Denver.
But could bringing the rescued dogs to Bend’s perennially crowded shelter mean other dogs might have to be euthanized, to make room? No, Kerstetter said Friday.
“Luckily, we knew these were small-breed dogs,” he said. “We have a lot of interest in small-breed dogs, but we don’t usually get that many into the shelter.”
Pooches ‘reserved’ but friendly toward people’
Kerstetter said they seem like very adoptable critters, despite their woeful lives to this point.
“We named them as we were doing health checks on them,” Kerstetter said. “We did thorough health checks, spent about a half-hour per dog. That’s a good indication of how much attention they can handle.”
“For the most part, they seemed to be a little reserved, but all in good spirits. And all seemed to be friendly toward people. So hopefully, about half of them can be headed for good, new homes by early next week.”
The dogs were removed from the home near Harper of Barbara Erickson, 76, and husband Robert Erickson, 64, who later were arraigned in Malheur County Circuit Court on criminal mischief and second-degree animal neglect charges.
District Attorney Dan Norris estimated the rescue would cost the county at least $10,000, not including the costs to the Payette shelter, a volunteer agency operating out of two homes.