Authorities seized 50 purebred beagles from what was described as a ramshackle and filthy home in northwestern Minnesota, and a criminal case is being prepared against the woman who lives there. One other beagle was found dead at the residence.
The dogs were removed Tuesday from the single-family house on the north side of the Norman County town of Shelly, about 25 miles southwest of Crookston, said Sheriff Jeremy Thornton.
"We spoke with her, and there was no explanation" from the woman in the house, said Wade Hanson, a state Humane Society investigator who was on the scene as the dogs were collected.
Hanson said the dogs were essentially breeding at will, and "she just got overwhelmed and couldn't care for them."
The dogs were "very dirty," either from mud in the kennel behind the home or from feces, he said.
Hanson described the house as "not livable" for humans or animals, noting it was "full of feces, had walls missing and stuff like that."
The beagle that died was about a year old, he said, but there's no initial suspicion about what led to its death.
Reene Stephens, of the Humane Society of Polk County in Crookston, said the surviving dogs "came in really muddy and had cuts and stuff on them. "One of the puppies lost part of an ear."
The sheriff said investigators were still trying to determine the woman's motive for having such a large number of dogs in one place.
A complaint was made with the Sheriff's Office on March 3 about the dogs, and the Sheriff's Office and state Humane Society personnel spent "most of the day yesterday [Tuesday]" gathering up the animals, Thornton said.
Possible charges include lack of "proper ventilation and sanitation," the sheriff said. "We're still working" on the case for presentation to the county attorney for potential prosecution, Thornton added.
About two dozen of the dogs were kept at the Humane Society in Crookston, with the rest being distributed to various rescue groups in the region, Stephens said.
One of the dogs is pregnant, and there were two six-week-old puppies in the home, she said.
"They are a little skittish, but they are warming up," Stephens said of the ones still at her facility. "They are beautiful dogs."
The dogs are not yet available for adoption, but they will be at some point. People interested in adopting can call the Humane Society in Crookston at 1-218-281-7225.