In the breeder’s ill attempt to hide puppies, Minnie and her litter mates were placed in a hole in the ground under the breeder’s trailer in which she lives. Hearing whining, one of the deputies discovered the puppies…well, all but Minnie.
Minnie was so small she was not seen when her litter mates were removed from the hole.
Along with 20 plus other intact dogs not caught during the warrant’s 10 hour time period, Minnie was left behind. Late into the night, the breeder heard 8 week-old Minnie whimpering and Minnie was finally removed from the bitter, bitter cold, damp, dark hole in the ground.
For the next 9 months, while the breeder’s animal cruelty case journeyed through the court system, Minnie, the other
In July 2009, a plea agreement was reached between the breeder and Yellowstone County and the fate of all the dogs – those seized and those left behind – eventually rested with a district court judge.
The judge turned over the seized dogs to a specialty breed “rescue” group to place the dogs for adoption and gave the breeder 60 days from sentencing in which to find homes for the dogs left behind or a rescue group to take on the placement of the dogs.
As of 12:01 AM October 10, 2009, all animals not in compliance with the judge’s order remaining on the breeder’s property were going to be seized by the State of Montana and presumably killed.
For the first 5 ½ months of volunteering every day, 7 days a week, 4 – 8 hours a day, I participated in the name calling of the breeder. I showed her no mercy with my words. No one did.
My heart began to trouble me.
The county removed approximately 13 dead dogs from the breeder/hoarder’s property on the day of the raid. Four of the dogs (puppies) had died from parvo and were in a plastic bag that had been set apart from the live dogs so the parvo would not spread. The other dogs had died from wounds related to farm life and injuries from other dogs.
During the 8 months the seized dogs, chickens, and cats were in the county’s custody 69 animals died horribly violent
Yes, my heart began to trouble me.
Something was terribly wrong with what was occurring.
I began to feel bitterness toward my own words of condemnation I had spoken. The understanding that God had not called me to judge the breeder/hoarder, but instead to show her grace and mercy began to grow within me.
The understanding that the breeder was not “simply” an irresponsible, cruel breeder, but a woman who suffers with the mental illness of hoarding began to take root in my mind and in my heart. I began to educate myself on this specific mental
According to an article published in 2000 by the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC), a study of 54 animal hoarders concluded that “most cases were female (76%), a large proportion (46%) were 60 years of age or older; most were single, divorced or widowed; and almost half lived alone. The most common animals involved were cats (65%) and dogs (60%).”
The study also estimated that based on the data collected, there are 700 to 2,000 new cases of animal hoarding every year in the United States.
That was 10 years ago.
In my research, I learned that in 10 years while the number of hoarders has increased, awareness of the illness and its treatment has not kept up with the pace.
What happens when there is not a bad cowboy, just a bad situation?
With less than 2 weeks, myself, two other volunteers who had also been working with the seized dogs, and a small handful of big hearted, animal loving people placed 34 dogs, 4 horses and 1 goat in adoptive and foster homes. (It was at this time Minnie came to live with me in her forever home.)
The breeder was compliant with the judge’s order by October 10, 2009 and continues to be. She is on 20 years probation and is required to attend mental health counseling through a county run program.
As it has been said with so many rescue dogs, “they pick you” – Minnie picked me.
And she continues to each and every day.
Minnie has a unique personality for an English shepherd in that she seems to understand that she has a story to tell and that her job is not to herd, but to be heard.