Abused and neglected horses, dogs and other animals by the dozens were rescued by law enforcement from filth on a farm in east-central Minnesota, but it was too late to save two of the horses, authorities said Wednesday.
The seizures occurred Sept. 12 at a farm on Holly Road northeast of Pine City, according to the Pine County Sheriff's Office, and involved the removal of 12 starving horses, 21 dogs, 84 chickens and 18 ducks.
Two of the horses "were put down by a veterinarian due to their deplorable condition," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement. Two of the dogs were about to give birth, the statement said.
North Ridge Veterinarian Service's Delores Gockowski assisted with the seizure and said "the term gut-wrenching doesn't begin to tell how bad things were."
The Sheriff's Office would not reveal the name of the animals' owner, explaining that the monthlong investigation was continuing.
A neighbor identified the owner as Kathy Doenz, 65, and court records show she was convicted and sentenced in 2006 on a charge of gross-misdemeanor cruelty to animals. Efforts to reach Doenz, who does not own the farm and lives just east of Pine City, were unsuccessful Wednesday.
Sheriff's Chief Deputy Steven Blackwell said Wednesday that the earlier case is "going to be added as part of [the investigation] in case she wants to get the animals back."
Numerous online and local newspaper ads over the years show that Doenz was selling puppies of various breeds, including pit bulls, as well as mixed breeds. One ad cautioned callers that because "you are buying quality don't call with low offers."
The horses and dogs rescued last week will be available for adoption starting Tuesday if Doenz declines to challenge their seizure within a 10-day period that is well underway.
Should the adoption process kick in, the horses would be available through North Ridge Veterinary Service. The adoption of the dogs would be handled by the Pine County Guardian Angel Shelter.
The dogs are in "much better shape" than when they were rescued, said Tracy Clymer, the no-kill shelter's resource coordinator. "When we received them, there was lots of dehydration," and some of them were little more than "a bag [of] bones" from lack of food, Clymer added.
A few of the dogs won't be eligible for adoption, Clymer said, because they are "too unsocialized. They will stay here as a sanctuary."
One of the pregnant dogs had a litter of six on Tuesday, with one not surviving birth. "We're watching one in particular," Clymer said. "She's kind of puny."
All of the rescued dogs are full-grown, and the breeds range from Labrador retrievers to German Shepherds to Great Pyrenees as well as mixed breeds, Clymer said.
"The were definitely dirty, dusty and their coats were not in good condition," she said.
Clymer said Doenz and a relative visited the shelter recently and "identified the dogs by name and had a good visit."