Tiny dogs, big need

By Les Zaitz
The Enterprise
NYSSA – For now, the small portable kennel not much bigger than a tool box is home to a rescued Yorkie and her days-old litter of seven pups. Their kennel is tucked on an office shelf, the safest place for them.
Across the gravel driveway, a makeshift chain link kennel on a concrete floor is the new home for about a dozen other Yorkies and other breeds.
Few are brave enough to greet visitors. Some sleep away on an old couch.
Others lurk quietly in the dark behind the couch, unsettled by their new home.
In all, 43 dogs now calling Ani-Care Animal Shelter home were rescued last week from a Weiser house where police found unacceptable conditions. The shelter is on Oregon Highway 201 south of Ontario.
Washington County Sheriff Matt Thomas told the Malheur Enterprise Saturday that his deputies responded to the Weiser home after a relative of an elderly couple called police.
“The living conditions were very poor,” Thomas said. “The entire inside of the house was pretty much a kennel for all 37 dogs.”
Police seized the dogs because the home wasn’t healthy for them – or for people, Thomas said.
He recruited Ani-Care to take the dogs after the Idaho Humane Society said it couldn’t take the animals unless the owners gave up ownership. They wouldn’t do so, Thomas said.
He said he hopes the owners, whom he didn’t identify, will relinquish the dogs. Otherwise, he said, he would seek a court order to take ownership.
Amanda Grosdidier, one of the partners in Ani-Care, didn’t hesitate to agree to take the rescued dogs.
The kennel was already full, housing 64 dogs, when the rescue operation came along.
“What do you do?” asked Kim Hansen, Amanda’s mother and another one of the shelter’s directors. “You can’t just leave them in that situation.”
Grosdidier, Hansen and one other director, Brian Feeley, are staffing the shelter as volunteers.
Grosdidier said the dog count grew even before she and her helpers could get the animals to the shelter. One dog gave birth to six puppies while at the vet clinic. Three other rescued dogs removed from the house also had pups.
“We don’t usually even bring puppies out here,” said Hansen.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office agreed to pay the shelter’s fee of $15 per dog per day. As of Monday it was unclear how long the dogs would remain. Hansen said if a court forfeits the dogs, the shelter would set up a procedure to adopt out the Yorkies and others. All weekend, people from across the country clamored to adopt.
For now, Ani-Care needs help tending to all the dogs, Hansen said.
One pressing need is for an electrician to help restore power to an entire wall in the makeshift kennel and to fix power in the puppy shelter to restore it to use. Hansen is hoping for volunteer help to get the power going so more fans can be used to keep the dogs cool, especially in the tin-roofed garage being used for a temporary kennel.
The shelter could use small breed dog food and “greenies” to clean teeth, Hansen said. Eventually, the dogs will need vet care.
Hansen talked of that need as she cradled a small Yorkie, blind after the loss of both eyes.
Money has been in tight supply, so Grosdidier and Hansen suggest those who want to donate money send checks to Dog N Cat Wellness Clinic in Weiser or to the shelter.
But the rescued dogs also need something not on a store shelf – human companionship.
Hansen is seeking volunteers to help tend to the animals. She said volunteers can show up at the shelter during its normal business hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The shelter is at 3616 Oregon Highway 201, between Ontario and Nyssa.