Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19212
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull), marine animal (pet)
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Saturday, Jan 21, 2012

County: Matanuska Susitna

Disposition: Alleged

Abuser names unreleased

Ten very large dogs, five less enormous dogs, a hermit crab and a tropical fish, all apparently abandoned, wound up at the Mat-Su Borough's animal shelter this week.

"We received a report both from the state troopers and probably the public that the dogs were barking," said Animal Care and Regulation Chief Phil Morgan.

The borough posted notices on the door of the home Jan. 20 and then again the next day. The homeowners did not respond and there were no footprints in the snow or other indication that someone had been there.

"If there is no contact for a 24-hour period then they would be considered abandoned," Morgan said.

He said that he knows the home on Knik River Road in the Butte to be a breeding kennel - the owners got a kennel license last year. Alaska Public Radio Network reports the home was the subject of an investigation into a possible marijuana growing operation. The most recent Alaska State Troopers press release mentioning a marijuana grow on that road references a Dec. 21 raid that turned up 82 plants, growing equipment and hashish.

Whatever the case, Morgan said, his officers and troopers went there on Monday with a search and seizure warrant.

"There appeared to be no available food and no available water," Morgan said. "So with that being said, and with the evidence that we had that nobody had been there for a period of 24 to 48 hours, we decided that it was in their best interest to take them."

He said that 10 of the dogs were mastiffs. There was also a black Labrador retriever, two silver Labs, a Staffordshire bull terrier and a Karelian bear dog. The mastiffs, like most of their bread, are very large dogs.

"One 183 pounds I think was the biggest one," Morgan said.

He said the fish and hermit crab were a little bit of a tougher call. The shelter isn't really set up to handle fish. But fish are also relatively delicate, requiring bubblers and water that is carefully monitored.

"My concern was if the owners did indeed abandon and if the electricity got shut off, that house would have frozen up solid in a day or two and that aquarium would have been a big block of ice," Morgan said. "What we have here was better than leaving them there."

On Tuesday, Morgan said, he sent them out to an Anchorage fish rescue group to be taken care of.

As for shelter resources, Morgan said taking on this many dogs is a strain, though not quite the burden that other cases like the Frank Rich case that recently made headlines and involved the seizure of more than 150 dogs.

"It did take a large number of kennels because it's not like we took 25 Chihuahuas that we could put in three kennels," Morgan said.

These 15 dogs required 15 kennels, and they eat a lot, taxing the shelter's food resources.

Yet another problem - without the owners signing off on letting them go or coming to pick them up, Morgan has to wait at least six weeks before he can adopt any of them out.

"If we cannot make contact with the owners we're going to have to through the schedule rules," he said. By law, "you have to post it one day a week for four consecutive weeks in the newspaper."

He said he would be amenable to taking names and contact information for people who might want one of the dogs in six weeks. The number for the animal shelter is (907)746-5500.


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