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Prairie Paws helps 39 animals this week

Asia Johnson, 10, left, and Riche Johnson, 11, right, hold three dogs taken in by Prairie Paws Rescue this week. From left, they are Cocoa, a Yorkie, Rosa, a Maltese, and Spot, a long-haired Chihuahua. Kari Lucin / The Sun

A week of rescue work has resulted in a menagerie of animals for Prairie Paws Rescue — 20 dogs, three cats, one rabbit and 15 goldfish.

Most of the animals came from two separate rescue efforts.

On Monday, a South Dakota dog breeder gave Prairie Paws six dogs, followed by another four dogs on Tuesday night.

“They were forced to move, so they had decided to get rid of their dogs — they don’t have a place that will allow them to have the dogs,” said Becky Johnson, co-founder of Prairie Paws.

On Thursday night, the Wells County Sheriff’s Department contacted Prairie Paws about another case involving 10 dogs, three cats and 15 goldfish.

The animals seem to have been left in a house with no provisions made for them, but the details remain unknown, and the case remains under investigation, Johnson said.

The pets weren’t in imminent danger, and were assessed at the scene by a veterinarian, she added.

The dogs from the South Dakota breeder are in relatively good shape, with ear infections and bad teeth being the only health problems among them.

All are female, and all come from small breeds — Maltese, long-haired Chihuahuas, schnauzers, Yorkies, dachshunds and a miniature poodle.

They’d been kept in a house, not in small wire cages in a barn, Johnson said. The dogs are also friendly with people.

Those dogs will be ready for adoption as soon as their medical work is complete.

“We’ve been working with these people for a couple years to reduce their numbers,” Johnson said, referring to the South Dakota breeder.

Breeders in similar situations are encouraged to call Prairie Paws for assistance, she added.

The assorted animals from Thursday’s rescue efforts included two large, two medium and six small dogs, as well as three adult cats and a bucketful of goldfish.

Little information is available about them, however, and they will not be available for permanent adoption until their legal status is resolved.

“… they’re all in limbo waiting for placement,” Johnson said.

The rabbit came from a separate case.

Breeding dogs

While many dogs are available from shelters and rescue groups, if a prospective dog owner does decide to go to a breeder, there are a few things he or she should look for, to ensure the breeder is reputable.

“The biggest problem with breeding dogs (is if) they’re not breeding quality lines,” Johnson said.

Breeders who aren’t reputable won’t track their dogs’ lineage to make sure they’re breeding quality pets free of genetic defects, she added.

In addition, most reputable breeders will only have knowledge of one breed, or perhaps two, Johnson said. And most reputable breeders will only let their dogs give birth to one litter a year rather than every heat cycle, which can exhaust the dog.

And if a puppy does have a genetic problem, a breeder selling the puppy will include a spay/neuter contract, so that the problem won’t be passed on to the next generation.

“Most breeders will guarantee their puppies for a period of time for health and genetic (problems),” Johnson said.

If a breeder won’t show a prospective owner the puppy’s parents and the site of the breeding operation, that’s a tip-off, because puppy mills typically don’t want to show people the site.

Good breeders typically have smaller businesses than poor ones, though not always.

“Take the dog to the veterinarian to get a puppy checkup when you get a puppy,” Johnson advised, because a wellness check will include documentation of any problems.

Helping out

Prairie Paws is always seeking more families to foster animals, Johnson said.

Those who can’t foster but would still like to help can either donate funds to the rescue organization or donate gas cards or gift cards, as one of the group’s big expenses is transporting animals.

This week, Johnson said, Prairie Paws made three 200-mile trips.

Pet equipment is another helpful donation — collars, leashes, toys, chews and treats.

Anyone interested in donating can contact Prairie Paws at prairiepawsres or drop items off at one of the local veterinary clinics.

For more information about Prairie Paws and a list of animals available for adoption, visit www.prairie

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at (701) 952-8453                 or by email at