Purebreds crowd into Newton shelter

The Caring Hands Humane Society in Newton is packed with 42 purebred puppies and dogs whose breeds read like a list of America's hottest lapdogs: shih tzu, Chihuahua, Maltese, Pomeranian, Yorkshire terrier.

The shelter is counting on these attractive pets to be adopted quickly, or it could face a crowding crisis.

The adoption fees — $150 for an adult dog and $225 for a puppy — are a fraction of what breeders and pet stores would charge for them.

They are the bulk of the 111 dogs that were seized earlier this week from a licensed Butler County breeder who consistently violated sanitation and crowding rules, said Debra Duncan, director of animal facilities inspection at the Kansas Animal Health Department.

The remaining dogs were distributed to other shelters in northeast Kansas.

" (The breeder) just got in over her head," Duncan said, adding the breeder kept 40 dogs and faces a $10,000 fine if she doesn't clean up her operation. "She had too many dogs too fast."

The dogs at the Newton shelter are in good condition overall, said Jack Brand, spokesman for the shelter.

There are no major health concerns. Brand said some dogs had coats so matted they had to be shaved, but many just needed a light bath and grooming.

"They appear to be used to children," he said. "As far as I know, all 42 are adoptable. It's fantastic."

But they do need house training, Brand said.

"They're not used to things most dogs take for granted, like stairs, toys," he said.

To help their rehabilitation, Brand said the shelter is asking for more volunteers to play with the pups.

But adopters shouldn't think the "purebred" label means they might be looking at a contender for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

None of the dogs will have documented pedigrees, and all will be spayed or neutered, Brand said.

"Little purebreds are adoptable because they're small and you know how big it's going to be," Duncan said.

Brand said he's optimistic the dogs will be adopted quickly. He said last year the shelter rehabilitated and adopted out all of the 22 shih tzus seized from a breeder, and they were in far worse shape.

A few adoptions have already been approved, but Brand said most of those are puppies, which must stay in the shelter's care until they're older.

This week's raid caused the largest influx the Newton shelter has handled, Brand said.

The shelter comfortably fits 50 dogs, and many of the purebred dogs have been placed in foster families.

"At this point in time, we're OK," Brand said. "We're in a crisis situation because we filled all the foster homes."

The Caring Hands Humane Society is working toward being a "no-kill" shelter. Brand said last year about 90 percent of the dogs behaviorally and physically fit to be adopted were. The remaining adoptable dogs were euthanized.

Brand said the shelter wouldn't be able to handle another influx of animals before they adopt out the purebreds.

"We'd have to make a decision on who has the best chance of being adopted."