WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. – Marsha Chaney used detective work and dogged determination to rescue 11 small dogs from disgusting conditions at a Northern Kentucky puppy mill.
Like a bloodhound, the director of the Grant County Animal Shelter followed the trail after a driver brought her a Pomeranian left on the side of a road in July.
“It had been neglected for years and years. It couldn’t even walk, it was in such bad shape,” Chaney said. “So I went out there looking from where this dog may have come.”
She didn’t find it at first. “Then I got an anonymous tip,” she said.
“When I got there, I could smell the stench from the road and I could hear dogs barking, but they were in a building.”
Like a bulldog, she didn’t give up despite the property owner’s attempts to dissuade her.
“I went numerous times back out there. The owner of the property would not open the door, would not answer my phone calls, so the sheriff went with me and she refused to open the door as well with him,” Chaney said.
“The sheriff left a door hanger and she came in the next day with tags for nine Pomeranians."
Like a pit bull, Chaney bit hard and wouldn’t let go.
“She still refused to let me on the property - she gave me every excuse. So I went to Joe Taylor, the county attorney, and I pleaded with him for a search warrant. It was granted, and the Sheriff’s Department went with me and we rescued 11 dogs,” Chaney said.
Now she’s asking for help to nurse them back to health and to relieve the overcrowding at her shelter.
The rescued dogs – mostly Pomeranians, a few Chihuahuas and a poodle - are not up for adoption yet. They have to be nourished and treated, Chaney said.
But they might not be alive if it weren’t for her.
Chaney said it must have been 130 degrees inside the pitch-black building where the dogs were locked. It was so dark she couldn’t see inside. Once they walked in, they had to breathe through their mouths so they could bear the stench.
“The ammonia smell would knock you back,” she said. “You had to come out of building, catch your breath, get a whiff of fresh air, then go back in and get another dog.
“It was just deplorable. I can not describe the conditions these dogs were living in.”
Chaney said it should be a lesson to people before buying a dog.
“If anybody learns anything from this, this is the exact reason you should not buy a puppy from a flea market or a parking lot because you don’t know how the parents are being raised,” she said.
“If the seller is not willing to let you see both parents on the premises, on their property, it should be a red flag not to buy. And if you’re not buying them, they’re not going to supply them.
“All breeders are not bad breeders,” she said, “but when you get into a situation where people will not let you see the parents … you shouldn’t buy the puppy.”
Getting the rescued dogs back to health is “going to be a long road,” she said.
That’s why Chaney opened the shelter on Labor Day.
“We need to move some other dogs out, get them adopted to wonderful, forever homes,” she said.
Little Gracie Turpin came with her mom and dad. After looking at dozens of cats, Gracie took home a dog, Muffin.
The shelter is also asking for cash donations to pay for treating the rescued dogs.
“We have to take all these dogs to the veterinarian. We have to get teeth cleaning, and we’ve already treated them twice for fleas because the infestation was so terrible. They all have to be groomed and cleaned,” Chaney said.
“A lot of them have teeth problems, so we have to feed them with soft canned food. We want to put them on the same type of food instead of switching it every day. We’ve had wonderful people donate canned food but we have to get them on the same brand and be consistent to avoid digestive issues.”
Visit the shelter at 218 Barnes Road, Williamstown, KY 41097. Call ahead for hours at (859) 824-9403.
You can donate to the shelter online. Go to the shelter’s home page at http://grantcounty.ky.gov/living/animal_shelter.htm and scroll near the bottom.
Or mail donations to: Grant County Court House, c/o Pat Conrad, 101 North Main St., Williamstown, Ky. 41097.