Lots of community help needed to care for big dogs

·4 min read

Aug. 5—Big dogs take a lot of work, and fortunately for the Idaho Animal Rescue Network, there is a big community helping support the 25 Great Danes in their care.

According to a news release from the network, the Nez Perce County Sheriff's Office requested assistance last Friday in removing 13 Great Danes that were surrendered by the owner. At the Lewiston residence, it was discovered that multiple dogs were still in the home, but the owner refused to let law enforcement and volunteers enter. Nick Woods, spokesperson for the rescue group, said they suspected the dogs in the home were living in similar inhumane conditions, but couldn't act without law enforcement intervention.

However, the sheriff's office returned Wednesday with a search warrant to take custody of the dogs in the home and the rescue group found 12 additional full-grown Great Danes, according to the news release. The news release also said there was ammonia in the air that required deputies and Lewiston Fire Department to wear hazmat gear to retrieve the dogs. According to the release, the sheriff's office is conducting a criminal investigation into possible charges of neglect or lack of care.

The Great Danes are being cared for by local veterinarians for a variety of medical issues. Volunteers have been taking shifts to watch the dogs, bathe them, and change food, water and bedding. Volunteers are also helping with socializing and learning their personalities and temperaments, according to the release.

When the dogs arrived in the care of the rescue group, every dog had fleas and were under fed. Some also had urine burns on their paws from laying in their own urine and feces. Some had abscesses or other medical concerns like eye infections and swollen paws.

However, the condition of the 12 dogs from the initial surrender have improved. Woods said the dogs are out of their kennels and interacting with each other and staff. "(Their) tails are a-wagging and they seem to be in good spirits," he said.

Their behavior is an improvement too. Woods said when they first took the dogs in, they were very timid and when people came into the room they would lay down and not interact with people. Because they wouldn't move, they had to be carried away from the home during the surrender.

The dogs were taken to the Idaho Animal Rescue Network, Lewis-Clark Animal Shelter and some went to the vet. Others were taken to Fur Family Cinema, which has been part of the rescue group since the network's beginning. "They have 100% bent over backward to help us and the community," Woods said.

After the dogs arrived at their new home, they slowly began to open up. Then one of the dogs started pulling toys out of the toy box. Pretty soon, he was acting like a "real puppy," along with the other dogs, Woods said. "That was a completely different behavior from a few hours before."

Now, the rescue has started leash training and getting the dogs socialized and used to being around people. The dogs that were initially surrendered will soon be available for adoption. The other dogs will take longer because they are part of a criminal investigation. "We don't have the authority to adopt those dogs out while they are under the jurisdiction of the sheriff," Woods said. "We are in a holding pattern until the justice system plays out."

However, Woods said the dogs from inside the home were better used to people and in better condition, although one was taken to the vet within minutes of volunteers entering the home. He expects their health to improve just as well as the other dogs.

Before the dogs find their forever homes, they still need help from the community. Woods said the big dogs take a lot of work. More volunteers are needed to transport dogs and the rescue goes through a full bag of dog food a day. They also need blankets and towels because the dogs had fleas. Vet bills are also piling up, which Woods said will be the biggest expense. One bill for a dog's foot problem cost $700.

Woods said the community has already come out to help with volunteers. "We are very appreciative of the donations and all the help," Woods said. "It takes a community and it's not just the rescue doing it."

Brewster may be contacted at kbrewster@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2297.


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