A group of 200 dogs seized from a Jefferson County puppy mill last fall need a new home. The owner of the malamute puppies is facing animal cruelty charges and is awaiting trial.
The story of the rescued malamutes made headlines last fall. Helena’s Lewis and Clark Humane Society needs the public to realize this story is not over yet.
The Humane Society is keeping about 40 of the malamutes in a big open garage at their shelter. They each pace around their own kennel, putting their front paws on the chain-link and barking as I walk by. They have pointed ears and thick fur in swirls of black and white. They’re beautiful.
“Aren’t they though?” asked Humane Society Executive Director, Gina Wiest. “They’re absolutely the most gorgeous…to see them in such a large group, they are impressive animals.”
And the cute little puppies aren’t puppies anymore, they are definitely dogs.
“That’s the trouble with having a case that’s gone on so long,” Wiest said “You know because everyone wants puppies…and they’re mostly all gonna be grown up.”
Wiest and her staff have been keeping the malamutes since they were seized from owner Mike Chilinski last fall. Nobody can adopt these dogs right now, they’re the primary evidence.
It’s a frustrating situation.
“Normal evidence you can box up and put on a shelf,” Wiest said. “This is living evidence that needs to be taken care of every single day.”
The Humane Society of the United States is paying the Lewis and Clark staff to walk the dogs, feed them, and clean their kennels every day–in two locations.
There are the 40 dogs at the shelter, and then this other warehouse where they keep the other roughly 160. That place is in an undisclosed location, and there’s a problem. The owner of the warehouse wants those dogs out, by the end of the month. See, the trial was supposed to be in August, but it was just moved to October. So the warehouse owner is basically saying “Ok, that’s way longer than I thought it was gonna be, you’re gonna have to find another place for your dogs.”
Wiest says they are having a lot of trouble finding another place to keep them. They need 5-thousand square feet to fit their kennels with access to water and hopefully somewhere nearby the dogs can be walked.
And the courts are telling the Humane Society they can’t do too many newspaper stories with pictures or TV spots. Because seeing too much of the cute dogs might affect a jury.
“People are losing interest because there is a gag order. In particular as regards to the animals because they’re afraid they don’t want to do anything that’s going to jeopardize this case.”
“What happens if you don’t find a place by the end of June?” I asked.
“Then we’re gonna have to hold our hat in hand and ask for an extension at the current place for at least a couple weeks. You know, that’s a good question, I don’t know what we’re gonna do.” she said.
They need to find something. It could be a long time before the shelter can begin finding a home for these dogs.
Anyone able to help keep the malamutes can call the Lewis and Clark Humane Society at 442-1660.