Case Snapshot
Case ID: 11318
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007

County: Matanuska Susitna

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 2 files available

Alleged: George Bergevin

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

A recreational musher in Wasilla had his 21 sled dogs seized on Wednesday amidst allegations of animal cruelty. Now the Mat-Su Animal Shelter is feeling the impact of an entire sled dog team within their walls.

Mat-Su Animal Care and Control officers seized 21 sled dogs from a Wasilla home only Wednesday. By Thursday, the shelter was almost filled to the max. Officers say it never had to get to this point.

When Mat-Su Animal Care and Control officers arrived at a home near Point Mackenzie, they found one dead sled dog and 21 others so skinny, experts say they wouldn't have survived another week. Now that the dogs have been fed and checked out by vets, they are doing much better.

The second major animal cruelty bust involving dog teams, in only a matter of months, brings to light a bigger problem in Alaska. One local vet with nearly 30 years of experience with sled dogs says the backyard musher doesn't always know what they are getting into when they decide to take up the sport.

"The biggest thing is people just get into it too fast and don't realize how much work it is. The biggest thing, I think, is just numbers. There is just a lot more with 20 than with one or two," said Phillip Meyer, DVM, of the Wasilla Veterinary Clinic.

There are resources available to help. Both the Iditarod and Mat-Su Valley Animal Care and Control have programs that were designed to help animal owners feed and shelter their pets and dog teams.

Some say if the owner of these 21 dogs would have taken advantage of those programs, animal control might not have had to get involved and severe over crowding could have been avoided.

"Our shelter is pretty much filled to the gills right now. And who knows how long these dogs will be here. It could be anywhere from a couple, or three weeks, to a few months depending on how the court case goes," said Matt Hardwig of Mat-Su Animal Control.

The investigation into this latest case of animal cruelty is ongoing. It is still unclear whether these animals will be available for adoption or not. If you want to help all of the animals at Mat-Su Animal Care and Control, the animals are in need of donations of toys and blankets. For more information, you can call: 907-746-5500.


Case Updates

The owner of 21 emaciated huskies seized April 25 from a Point MacKenzie property has agreed to relinquish almost all of the dogs to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

George Bergevin, 57, was allowed to keep one dog but forfeited the rest Sunday and was charged with 17 counts of animal cruelty.

The 20 dogs left at the shelter will be evaluated for temperament and will need some time to return to full health before they're released for adoption, said animal control officer Matt Hardwig. Shelter vets believe that should take two weeks, Hardwig said.

"There are two that have some concerns with regards to medical problems," he said.

One, he said, was a dog found with a choke-chain-type collar grown into its midsection. Hardwig couldn't speak to the other dog's ailment.

In addition to the 21 dogs they seized, animal control officers found one dead dog at Bergevin's property. Bergevin explained to them that it was hit by a car.

Four of the 21 were loose on the grounds, not tied up like the others, and able to fend for themselves, leaving them less emaciated than the others. Bergevin was charged with cruelty for the state of the other 17 dogs.

Shelter records show Bergevin was allowed to take one healthy dog home, Hardwig said.

"As far as we know that is the only dog he has," Hardwig said.
Source: Anchorage Daily News - May 4, 2007
Update posted on May 5, 2007 - 3:08AM 

References

  • KTVA - April 26, 2007
  • KTUU - April 25, 2007


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