Animal Humane Society officials say 41 Chihuahuas rescued this week from an unsanitary home in Carlton County in northern Minnesota are in "decent" medical condition and should be ready for adoption by the middle of next week.
The dogs, ranging in age from a few months to 10 years old, had been housed in unkempt and overcrowded conditions before the society's Critical Response Team took possession of them on Wednesday and brought them to Golden Valley for treatment, said Graham Brayshaw, director of Animal Services.
"We got there before too much suffering occurred," he said. "It's sad, but it is uplifting that we can respond before too many suffered."
Humane Society officials received a complaint about 20 to 30 dogs living in filthy conditions and asked a Carlton County sheriff's deputy to accompany them to a residence in Silver Township, the Sheriff's Office said.
It was not immediately clear who filed the complaint.
When team members arrived, authorities found 41 dogs, including tiny unweaned puppies. Many dogs were "running free in the house like a roaming pack of Chihuahuas," Brayshaw said.
One of the dogs was paralyzed. Others were pregnant, he said.
Despite the unclean environment, all appeared to have had enough food and water, and were in "decent condition, without too many ill effects," Brayshaw said.
The owners signed over ownership to the Humane Society. No criminal charges have been filed, nor is a criminal investigation underway, Brayshaw said.
"They just could not take care of them," he said.
The Humane Society responds to about one or two cases a year in which large numbers of dogs are endangered. The most from a single rescue was 244 back in 2012.
Over the next few days, the Chihuahuas will be vaccinated and a behavior team will work to socialize them so "they can know what it is like to live in a normal house," Brayshaw said.
Once deemed fit for adoption, the dogs' pictures will be posted on the society's website.
With such a large rescue, the society is asking for donations to help treat the pups and announced a dollar-for-dollar match up to $20,000. Donations can be made at the society's office, 845 Meadow Lane, Golden Valley, or online at animalhumanesociety.org.
It also is looking for families to provide good homes for them.