Weather Forecast


Dogs seized from Wheatland puppy mill ready for adoption

FARGO - The 174-and-counting dogs seized from an apparent Wheatland puppy mill are available for adoption, say rescue workers who have been helping house and care for the dogs since their July 10 seizure by Cass County sheriff's deputies.

The dogs - Shih Tzus, Maltese and Yorkies, and crosses of those breeds - are currently living in foster homes spread out across the region. One of the homes is that of 4 Luv of Dog Vice President Amy Kracht.

The dogs' former owner, Darcy Darrell Smith, 51, of Wheatland, waived his rights during a Cass County court hearing Monday to regain custody of the dogs. A judge gave custody to the Cass County sheriff, who turned the dogs over to 4 Luv of Dog for adoption.

Prosecutors are still considering criminal charges against Smith.

"We're tired," Kracht said Friday afternoon at a fellow rescue worker's home, where some of the dogs were playing in the yard.

Kracht had been up since 4 a.m. answering a mass of emails about the Wheatland dogs.

The age of the adoptable dogs ranges from months-old puppies to older dogs of 13 or so, although age can be difficult to determine precisely in rescue dogs. Many of the dogs suffered neglect and undernourishment before their seizure. Some had coats so matted they were immobilized by their fur.

Kracht said potential owners can fill out applications online, but should be aware the process may take a week to 10 days to complete. Each adoption requires an in-home visit with a rescue volunteer to make certain potential owners have fenced spaces and other appropriate arrangements for a dog.

"Some people are calling up and comparing it to adopting a baby," she said of the adoption process. Some people are complaining the process is too involved.

The process was developed to keep dogs from coming back, Kracht said, because a hasty or poorly thought out adoption could end with an adopted rescue dog being surrendered by its new owner.

"Sometimes people will make an impulse application" and not tell their spouse they're doing so, she said, which rarely ends well for that dog. "We do visits to make sure your house - and all the people in it - want the dog."

Kracht said one of the most positive outcomes of the coverage surrounding the Wheatland case is that it drew attention to the rescue and its mission of finding homes for the region's homeless dogs.

Donations and other help for 4 Luv of Dog are critical in the months to come, she said. The Wheatland dogs are now the property of the rescue, and they will need continued medical care.

"We've gotten some great fosters, some great volunteers from this," Kracht said.