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Published August 01 2013

Forum editorial: Dog rescue saga takes happy turn

The disturbing dog neglect story out of Wheatland, N.D., is heading to a happy conclusion. The owner of 170 dogs seized by authorities July 10 said this week that he would not try to reclaim them. That’s good news.

But the best news emerging from what could have been a more tragic, more horrific story is the work of professionals and volunteers at Casselton (N.D.) Veterinary Service, a few miles from Wheatland in Cass County. The service not only has donated most of the estimated $100,000 (and growing) cost of restoring the dogs to health, it also has served as the central location for others who want to help. All of them, in particular the vet service personnel, earn a big bouquet of prairie roses.

Thus far, all the neglected dogs have survived. Some are in better physical or emotional condition than others. It’s possible a few of the dogs might never be comfortable around humans because of the depth of their trauma. But overall it appears the good folks caring for the dogs have done a remarkable job in bringing them back to health.

From the legal perspective, a court has given custody of the dogs to the Cass County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Paul Laney and his staff acted quickly to involve a reliable dog rescue group with a good record of doing right by neglected and/or abandoned dogs. It looks like all but a few of the dogs will be fit for adoption.

Meanwhile, county prosecutors are awaiting information about the former owner’s treatment of the dogs before deciding whether to criminally charge him. Surely the owner of what was described as a “puppy mill” is responsible for the condition of dogs that were in his care.

The grinding of legal machinery aside, the story’s latest chapter is brighter than the opening chapter. What could have been a tragedy – the dogs could have died at the scene of the crime, or been so sick they could not survive – has evolved into a tug-at-the-heartstrings story of rescue and restoration. That’s reason to smile.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.