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UPDATE: 56 dogs and young puppies rescued near Merrill


MERRILL, Wis. (WSAU) -- There’s more behind the story about the 56 dogs and puppies taken in by the Lincoln County Humane Society. Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies had been working with the owners of the dogs prior to Saturday when they were surrendered to the Humane Society.

Lieutenant Tim Fisher says they got involved when someone reported the occupants for having too many dogs without a kennel license. Fisher says they were working with the parties involved to get them in compliance. “We had found out about this residence a couple of weeks ago, and when we first came in, the dogs were in good care as they were now. They were advised of the fact that if you’re going to have that many dogs, you have to have a kennel license, and because kennel licenses are typically distributed from January to January, that was going to be pursued after the first of the year.”

Fisher says the Humane Society was brought in because of a different situation. He says the dogs, puppies and the people all had to go someplace else. “It’s my understanding that the landlord was removing the tenants from the residence. They had no place to take the animals, so they voluntarily surrendered them.” That was confirmed by the property owners.

The landlords are Tara and Andy Hodgkins. In an emailed statement to WSAU, they said, “These were unapproved dogs that belonged to tenants who moved in in November.” They also say, “The house was not condemned. The tenants were evicted. Also, there was heat available in the home. The tenants were not using it.”

With the 56 dogs now gone from the Highway J residence, Fisher says the Sheriff’s Department’ involvement in the case is over. “No criminal charges are going to be filed. There was no criminal neglect. Animals were fed and watered. They were in overall good health. The surrender was for the betterment of the animals.”

Lincoln County Humane Society officials are looking to find new permanent homes and foster homes for many dogs and cats, just to make room in their small shelter. Many small puppies are being kept in cat cages, and the building is only equipped for 11 dogs.

The Lincoln County Humane Society needs both money and supplies to help care for the puppies, but most of all, they need to find them good homes, and fast.

Their Facebook page has lots of puppy pictures,and a list of items they could use right away.  That list includes, but is not limited to large garbage bags, old sheets, blankets, cleaning supplies, KMR puppy formula, canned puppy food, puppy pads, and small dog or cat beds.  You can call the shelter at (715)536-3459.  

(Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the house was condemned. We have confirmation from the property owners and the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department that the property is not condemned.)