Ketchikan overwhelmed after 40 animals removed from home

Two of the dogs impounded at the Ketchikan animal shelter Oct. 9th. (Photo by Maria Dudzak/KRBD)
Two of the dogs impounded at the Ketchikan animal shelter Oct. 9th. (Photo by Maria Dudzak/KRBD)
Dogs impounded at the Ketchikan animal shelter. (Photo by Maria Dudzak/KRBD)
Dogs impounded at the Ketchikan animal shelter. (Photo by Maria Dudzak/KRBD)
Entering the kennel area at Ketchikan’s Pat Wise Animal Shelter, you are greeted by a chorus of nonstop barking, each dog jumping up on the kennel gate seeking attention. With the shelter at near capacity, staff is extremely busy, and volunteers have been stepping up to help. One volunteer is Susan Thompson.

Thompson is a member of the Ketchikan Humane Society board. She says she usually focuses her time with that organization, but when she heard about the overwhelming number of animals, she decided to help out. She was laundering bedding when I spoke with her.

“I feel terrible for the whole situation. I feel terrible for the woman and her family and particularly for these little animals who don’t know where they are or why they are and they’re scared and confused and need some help. And the shelter officers need help,” Thompson said.

Earlier this month more than 40 animals, mostly small dogs, were removed from a home and taken to the shelter. The question now is what to do with all the animals and how to care for them while they are waiting to be placed in homes.

On Oct. 9, Alaska State Troopers were called to a North Tongass home where they found an elderly woman in need of medical assistance. The North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department responded to the medical call and transported the woman to PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center. She was later medevacked to Seattle. In the home Troopers found more than 40 animals. They contacted Ketchikan Gateway Borough Animal Protection for help.

Animal Protection Director Eddie Blackwood was one of the people who responded.

“They were living in substandard conditions,” Blackwood said. “They had some issues with medical conditions such as skin problems, eye problems, ear infections, things like that.”

Blackwood says the floor of the small, dilapidated home was covered with about 6 inches of feces. Removed from the home were 31 small dogs, 6 cats and three chickens. Blackwood says one dog, one cat and one duck were found dead in the home. At the shelter, Animal Protection moved healthy animals upstairs to make space for the dogs in the kennels downstairs.

Blackwood says because the homeowner was incapacitated and unable to verbally surrender the animals to the shelter, they are not the property of the Borough and therefore cannot be fostered or adopted at this time.

“The Alaska State Troopers are the lead investigators on this,” she said. “So we are in the process of making contact with family members to either make arrangements for these animals or have them signed over to the shelter.”

As of Saturday afternoon, surrender or transfer of ownership of the animals had not occurred.

Blackwood believes the shelter will get custody of the animals soon and, once they are declared healthy by the veterinarian, can be placed for adoption or fostering. In the meantime, Blackwood says donations are appreciated.

Disclosure: Maria Dudzak volunteers at the shelter.

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