MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Animal Humane Society is caring for 107 dogs and two cats after it helped authorities in northern Minnesota recover the animals Thursday evening from a property where two women lived in feces-littered trailers, the Humane Society said.
The Humane Society’s Kathie Johnson said the incident doesn’t appear to be animal abuse.
“They truly, truly loved the dogs,” she said. “This got out of hand, and there’s no way they can care for 107 dogs on their own.”
The rescued dogs are mostly small breeds, such as pug, Chihuahua, dachshund and spaniel mixes.
Beltrami County police contacted Humane Society senior agent Wade Hanson after doing a welfare check of Carol Schmidt and Janice Brown earlier this week. The two lived in separate mobile homes near Bemidji on a property that authorities condemned after Thursday’s investigation, the Humane Society said. The homes were about 10 to 12 feet apart.
“When we arrived, approximately 50 dogs were running outside … barking, happy, glad to see somebody,” he said.
Hanson described the animals as being in relatively good condition. The condition of the trailers, however, was a different story.
“It was totally filthy, filled with … urine and feces throughout the house, hard to get around because of the junk piled up,” Hanson said. “The ammonia content in the house was strong enough to be able to burn your eyes and throat when you were taking a breath.”
Hanson calls the incident a classic case of hoarding, noting that there was no puppy mill on the property. He said one of the two women opened up to him about collecting dogs after her father’s death. He said the conditions inside the trailers were ‘very bad,’ and the amount of dogs ‘unbelievable.’
“It’s possible that the loss of her father a couple years ago caused her to need more and more in her life to keep her happy,” Hanson said.
Schmidt, one of the women living on the property, surrendered 48 dogs into the Humane Society’s care Wednesday. These dogs will be evaluated for placement early next week. Schmidt and Brown are being evaluated for their mental conditions.
The remaining 61 animals came to the Humane Society Thursday after Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp served both women with a warrant to investigate their property and remove the dogs and cats. The 59 dogs recovered Thursday will be held at the Humane Society pending the development of the case, the Humane Society said.
All the animals are being scanned for microchips, provided vaccinations and any other necessary treatments.
The Humane Society says they’ve taken in an unusual number of rescues lately – visit any of their shelters in Buffalo, Coon Rapids, Golden Valley, St. Paul and Woodbury to help out.
To see what animals are available for adoption, head over to the Humane Society’s website. Johnson expects it’ll take several more days for the animals to be ready for adoption. So far, veterinarians have given them vaccinations, but they still need to do a full medical evaluation on them.
“The process, first and foremost, is give these dogs a few days to settled down. They’ve been through a tramautic experience,” Johnson said.