Sunday, May 24, 2009

Benton Co WA: Dogs in Danger - Can HSUS Help?

Here's a goddamn sorry situation:

Allegations of troubles at Ella Stewart's Sun Valley Kennel are nothing new. Residents have complained for years, and county officials have investigated her operation before.

In 2007, the health department recommended her for prosecution, and the prosecutor's office asked the sheriff's department to serve a warrant and check on the animals' welfare. Stewart would not let officials inspect her property, and a court order would have been needed to see the dogs.

But the sheriff's department decided to give Stewart a break. She said she was trying to reduce the number of dogs on the property. She was on a quest to breed the world's smallest American Eskimo dog, she said, and she first needed to weed through her breeding stock.

She wasn't willing to give dogs to the Humane Society or have them put down. But she stands accused of being willing to let them live in filth.

Two years later, a deputy ran across the operation while on another call nearby. He said he found it because of the odor.


At least this time the authorities didn't mess around. Armed with a search warrant, deputies found dogs living in shopping carts with wood and scrap covering them to keep them in. Water bowls were covered in algae. Kennels -- if you can call them that -- had not been cleaned in a very, very long time, if ever, deputies said.

They arrested Stewart and charged her with animal cruelty. But there's still no resolution for the hundreds of dogs. They're still living at the kennel.

Benton County has no facility to take in the dogs and rehabilitate them or euthanize some if medically necessary. The Benton-Franklin Humane Society doesn't have the resources, nor do any other facilities in the region.

More on this story here and here. Sounds like the local dog community is willing to pitch in but is simply overwhelmed. And it doesn't help that authorities seem to be dragging their feet either. I guess they figure they've known about these dogs suffering for years, what's a little - or a lot - longer? The kennel owner seems willing to cooperate to some extent at least so hopefully things could be resolved if somebody gets on the freakin' ball here.

Seriously HSUS, can you spare some cash for area shelters so they can get these dogs out? I know writing a check probably won't satisfy your need for media coverage and fundraising opps so how about if I let you don your HSUS jackets and carry out some of the poor dogs in front of the cameras? Would you be willing to write a check then? I know you're not in the business of supporting local shelters but let's be frank - you've got the money and these dogs need help. You're not going to leave dogs living in shopping carts covered with wood scraps, just because the local shelters lack funds, right? That would be totally inhumane.

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