GOLD BAR — Some came to drop off food. Others made cash donations. And more than a few people Monday went to the Everett Animal Shelter with hopes of giving a better home to one of the 155 dogs removed from a suspected puppy mill near Gold Bar.
“We wanted to help out any way we could,” said Tammy Haase of Lynnwood. She and her children, Taylor, 20, and Alex, 15, read reports about the animals found Friday in what officials said were deplorable conditions.
The family dropped off $50 worth of dog food.
There were so many people visiting the shelter, which was closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, volunteers had set up a table outside to take donations.
Shopping carts were filled with bags of pet supplies. The phones rang off the hook. Dozens of e-mails filled officials’ in-boxes.
None of the dogs was adopted Monday.
For now, they need to be thoroughly examined by veterinarians, officials said. Snohomish County prosecutors also will have to sign off before the dogs find new homes. The animals are evidence in a possible criminal case.
“This is one of the largest puppy mills that we’ve ever uncovered,” Snohomish County Animal Control manager Vicki Lubrin said Monday.
Officials served a search warrant at the home Friday collecting evidence in an animal cruelty case. Two more warrants were served at homes in Snohomish on Sunday. No additional animals were seized. Officers found 39 more dogs living in better conditions, Lubrin said.
No arrests have been made, but investigators have identified the people they say are responsible for the animals’ care.
Inside the Everett animal shelter Monday, the stale smell of urine-soaked fur hung in the air near the dogs that were rescued.
Prior to being seized, some of the dogs had received operations to snip their vocals chords so they couldn’t bark. They made wheezing sounds. The coats on the dogs were matted and caked with excrement. There were beagles, terriers, pugs, dachshunds, boxers, Pekingese and many so-called “designer” dogs, a fancy name for mixed breeds.
On some dogs, what should have been white fluffy white paws were knotted, filthy brown. Many of the dogs likely will need to have their fur shaved later this week when groomers start helping to clean them up.
“They’re going to get a spa treatment,” said Shannon Delgado, the shelter’s assistant manager.
A tip led police to the home last week, Snohomish County sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Brand said.
Someone believed children were being mistreated at the house, he said. No children were living at the home when officials served the warrant.
Instead, dogs were found in crates and small pens that were overflowing with waste. A black Labrador retriever was crammed into a crate with a full-grown Doberman pinscher. The dogs couldn’t stand up, Brand said.
Several dead puppies were found in a freezer.
The skin on many of the dogs was crawling with fleas. Some dogs had sores. Others had tumors that will require surgical removal.
The smell from feces and urine at the home was so strong it could be detected well outside the residence. One man lived there, officials said.
“I can’t see any justification for treating animals the way these animals were treated,” Brand said.
It took animal control officers more than 10 hours to remove all the animals, which included four cats and three parrots, Brand said.
Illegal breeding operations for puppies and kittens increasingly are a problem nationwide, said Kathleen Summers, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States.
Some breeders sell puppies for more than $1,000 each to unsuspecting customers, she said. The animals often are mistreated and don’t receive the medical attention they should.
It’s best to adopt a pet from a local shelter, or make sure the breeder is reputable.
On Monday night, a veterinarian was scheduled to examine 10 of the rescued dogs. Those animals appeared to be in the worst shape.
Some slept at the back of a pen Monday, lethargic, unresponsive to food and human contact. A veterinarian will decide on the most appropriate treatment, Delgado said.
Many of the dogs are pregnant.
On Sunday night, one dog gave birth to four puppies. Three survived.
The dog was scared, but seemed to be taking well to the litter.
“She’s doing very well,” Delgado said. “She’s a good mom.”
Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.