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Roseau County puppy mill surrenders 18 dogs

Tony, a Shih Tzu puppy confiscated last week, is shown in a before and after photo. He, along with 18 other puppies, were taken from a rural breeder in Roseau County and cleaned up at the Pennington County Humane Society in Thief River Falls, Minn. The Roseau County Sheriff's Office is investigating.

A woman surrendered 18 small dogs in poor condition to the Pennington County Humane Society last week and she is the target of an investigation by the Roseau County Sheriff's Office.

A Roseau County deputy accompanied Humane Society personnel in picking up the dogs Friday from a rural residence.

"We took them more for the safety aspect," Roseau County Sheriff Steve Gust said Tuesday. "We will see what else we can do."

He couldn't say much because of the ongoing investigation, but no one has been charged, Gust said.

Dawn Williamson, operations manager of the Humane Society in Thief River Falls, said the breeder "had gotten out of hand. We took a U-Haul (trailer) up there Friday to pick them up. A deputy went with us."

The dogs include dachshunds, Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, a Cocker spaniel, miniature poodles and Chihuahuas, Williamson said.

"Their condition was poor. Their hair was matted and had encrusted feces in it. A Pomeranian does have an open sore on his leg, and some have little scratches here and there. They were living inside and it was heated. They were neglected but not physically abused."

The breeder said the high snows and cold weather made it difficult for her to care of the dogs, Williamson said.

"I don't think she was intentionally cruel to them."

Despite needing lots of care, all the pups are relatively healthy, she said.

"We spent Friday through (Monday) and finally got the last one shaved down," Williamson said. "We are talking eight-, nine-hour days, with four, five volunteers."

The Humane Society already had 25 dogs and 50 cats before the new dogs arrived, who added insult to injury by bumping cats out of one of the main rooms, making the felines double up a little, Williamson said.

Now all the dogs need are new homes.

"We hope to start adopting them out now," Williamson said. The adoption fee will be $200, more than the regular fee, because of the emergency, added cost, that included buying carrying cages, she said.

Reach the Thief River Falls Humane Society at (218) 681-8045; e-mail or go online at

Anyone with information for the sheriff's office can call (218) 463-1421.