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Nearly all dogs seized in ND puppy mill in foster care

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Only 14 of 174 dogs remain in animal clinic after being seized from a breeder in Wheatland, N.D., earlier this month, the Forum of Fargo Moorhead reports.

A sheriff's department spokeswoman from Cass County said Thursday that 160 of the dogs have been sent to foster homes.

Dozens of Shih Tzus, Maltese, Yorkies and a number of mixed breeds ranging for 5 days to 13 years old were kept in crowded portable kennels filled with feces at a rural Wheatland property.

Some kennels were packed with as many as five dogs each. The dogs were sent to Casselton Veterinary Clinic for care.

A court brief filed by Cass County prosecutors this week indicated that the dogs didn't have access to food or water, and had no air conditioning or ventilation in hot conditions. The brief also stated that the kennels they were kept in were saturated with urine and feces, and the dogs' hair was severely matted.

A court hearing is set for Tuesday to rule on a request by the dogs' owner, Darcy Smith, whether the dogs can be returned to him.

Prosecutors have yet to determine whether Smith will face any charges.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Tara Morris told the Forum that the costs of caring for the dogs has topped $100,000.

About $33,000 has been raised in public donations to offset the care, and the clinic plans to waive the remainder of the fee, the spokeswoman says.

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