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Apple Creek Kennel Surrenders 83 Golden Retrievers

By: Tony Spilde/Bismark Tribune
Mar 26, 2007 - 17:09:32 CDT

A pheasant cackled at Leonard Moos’ place on Monday afternoon, which was unusual only because of the sound that followed.

Silence.

No barking.

Moos, owner of Bismarck’s Apple Creek Kennel for 38 years, had his dogs taken from him over the weekend. The 83 golden retrievers — including 37 puppies that were bred to be sold to a pet broker in Kansas — were removed from Moos’ care because of alleged code violations. A Minnesota shelter that is caring for the dogs called the kennel a puppy mill, but Moos said he was just too old and too slow and was falling behind.

The problems, including improper cleaning of the kennel runs and lack of straw in the runs, were noticed at a routine inspection last week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which licenses dog breeders who sell to brokers or pet stores, conducted the inspection and told Moos of the problems.

Darby Holladay, a USDA spokesman, said Moos voluntarily surrendered the animals.

“The USDA took this action after being concerned for the care and welfare of the dogs at this kennel,” Holladay said.

He said the USDA wasn’t authorized to pursue any legal charges, but that any action would have to be taken by county officials. No charges were filed in Burleigh County against Moos as of Monday.

Moos said the dogs were in fine shape, but acknowledged that he was in the wrong.

“I was getting behind, falling apart and just not keeping up,” Moos said. “I told (the USDA) that I was glad they came to get (the dogs). It was getting so down and out. I’m glad they’re gone. It was going pretty fast downhill, and I knew that it was.”

The USDA animal-care inspector for North Dakota, Amy Jirsa-Smith, didn’t return phone calls seeking information on the list of infractions Moos allegedly made. He said he was shut down because of the dirty runs and lack of straw.

Mike Fry, executive director of Animal Ark Shelter — the Hastings, Minn., location where the dogs were taken — said Moos was running a puppy mill. He said the dogs were frightened and neglected, and that some were injured. He has posted images on the shelter’s Web site that he said show abrasions caused at Apple Creek Kennel.

Missy Hilsendeger, an animal warden for the Bismarck Police Department, helped round up dogs at the kennel on Saturday. She said some dogs had matted hair and some were frightened, but that she has seen places with worse conditions than Apple Creek Kennel.

“It wasn’t in real bad condition,” Hilsendeger said. “I think he tried taking care of them, but just got overwhelmed.”

After the inspection, the USDA contacted Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota, a small organization that takes in surrendered or found goldens and finds them new homes. RAGOM came to Bismarck on Saturday to collect the dogs. It was the largest one-time rescue for the group, and it solicited help from the Animal Ark Shelter. The dogs were taken to Hastings, where volunteers worked into the early morning hours Sunday to unload the animals and take care of them.

The dogs were washed and fed, and those that needed medical attention were cared for right away, Fry said. Again, Jirsa-Smith was unavailable to comment on the alleged physical maladies.

Temporary homes were found for the dogs, but many of them still need permanent homes. Monetary donations would also be welcome; according to RAGOM, the veterinary bills for the 83 dogs will likely top $25,000.

For information about adopting a dog or making a donation, check out www.ragom.org, or call 952-946-8070.