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Reservoir dogs all adopted; but county now has a bigger dog problem

| October 28, 2022 1:00 PM

All of the dogs that were abandoned up the Hungry Horse Reservoir have now been adopted, Flathead County Animal Shelter Director Cliff Bennett said Friday.

“However, we have more dogs than ever,” Bennett said. “We’re having a terrible run on owner surrenders.”

Bennett said the animal shelter has 42 dog kennels. On Friday, 40 were full.

He said fewer landlords are accepting pets as the housing crunch in the Flathead continues.

Dog owners, in turn, are finding they have to give up their pets.

Earlier this fall, a total of 18 dogs — all of them husky mixes — were abandoned up the Hungry Horse Reservoir near Doris Creek in late September.

One woman shot one of the dogs and even allegedly skinned it — thinking it was a wolf. The woman posted photos of the dog on social media. That story brought national and international attention by news media outlets.

The woman, Amber Rose Barnes, has since been cited for animal cruelty — a misdemeanor charge. She's scheduled to appear in Flathead County Justice Court Dec. 20.

Some of the reservoir huskies tested positive for parvovirus, but all them were successfully treated, Bennett said.

Any dog that’s adopted from the shelter has all of its vaccinations and is spayed or neutered, Bennett noted. There is a modest fee to adopt a dog or cat.

Currently there are about 18 dogs ready for adoption, with more in the wings. Stray dogs are kept for 72 hours under shelter policy to see if the owner claims them.

If they are not claimed, they are spay or neutered if necessary, given a day’s rest after the procedure and then listed for adoption.

As such, it can take about a week for an animal to be ready for adoption, Bennett noted.

The shelter only euthanizes those cats and/or dogs who have “quality of life” concerns or dangerous, threatening behavior issues. Cats and dogs are not euthanized for space, color, length of stay, or age.

The shelter also sometimes uses foster homes, but then people who want to adopt the dog have a harder time seeing it.

For more information on dog and cat adoption and to make an appointment, visit the county shelter website at: https://flathead.mt.gov/department-directory/animal

This story has been clarified from its original version that the shelter is a no-kill facility.