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29 underweight dogs seized from home

The Polk County Sheriff's Office removed 29 underweight hunting dogs from an unsanitary outbuilding at a rural residence near Erskine, Minn., while investigating an animal mistreatment complaint.

"All of these dogs I would guess are about half the weight that they should be," said Dawn Williamson, manager of the Pennington County Humane Society in Thief River Falls, which took in the dogs.

Williamson, who helped round up the dogs, said it's one of the worst cases of animal neglect or hoarding the shelter has seen in its 12-year history.

"There was no ventilation. There was no natural light," she said. "The dogs did not get out of there very often."

Williamson said the dogs were suffering from coccidia, a diarrhea-causing parasite that's easily treated, and were kept in a 25-by-50-foot space inside a metal structure.

One dog had to be euthanized and three others were retrieved by someone who'd left them at the home, thinking two dogs would be used for breeding and another would be trained to hunt, she said.

"They said it was about 40 pounds when they dropped it off, and it's 26 pounds now," Williamson said of one dog. "They were very angry that they had been so misled."

The remaining dogs are not yet up for adoption. The dogs' owners must wait until next week for a hearing on the matter, investigator Michael Norland said.

Williamson said the dogs' owners plan to petition the court to get 14 of them back. She said most of the dogs seized were less than a year old.

In the group are English setters, German shorthaired pointers, a chocolate Lab, a Gordon setter and an Irish setter puppy, Williamson said.

"They're all extremely friendly." she said. "They seem very well socialized."

No one has been cited, arrested or charged in the case. Attempts to reach the dogs' owners Tuesday were unsuccessful.