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Seventeen cocker spaniels rescued by Cocker Spaniel Resources were brought to the pickup site in the bed of a truck. CSR President Jan DeCraene estimated the temperature at the time was minus nine. (Submitted photo) Warning: Additional photos may be graphic.

Rescued dogs need help; so does helping organization

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life River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

On a recent sub-zero March day, volunteers from a town of Troy-based rescue group drove to a quiet church parking lot on the other side of Wisconsin to take possession of 17 cocker spaniels with severe eye, ear and skin injuries.

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The dogs were brought to the meeting spot huddled in crates stacked haphazardly in the back of a pickup truck.

They were transferred to towel-cushioned individual crates loaded into two climate-controlled SUV’s.

But, said Cocker Spaniel Resources President Jan DeCraene, because the cockers hadn’t been in a heated building, the rescuers had to keep the inside temperatures low to make sure the dogs didn’t go into shock from being overheated in transport.

Two months earlier, the St. Croix County volunteers had taken another 17 cockers from the same “collector.” Late last year they rescued 14 others from the same owner, and another group took five.

“We figure she had at least 66 and probably closer to 70,” said DeCraene. The family that had the dogs -- as is typical -- wouldn’t let rescuers onto their property or even tell them where it is.

The dogs rescued most recently include 10 males and seven females. One is 11 years old, one is 12, and the rest are six to eight years old.

“Collectors are people who just like something,” said DeCraene. “Some collectors take care of their items or animals, and some don’t.”

The family that had these dogs socialized them and fed them. “But that was the end of it,” said DeCraene.

The dogs were missing patches of fur. Most had ear infections. All except four had dry eye -- a condition that could eventually cause blindness -- caused by ammonia burns.

“These dogs sat in their own feces and urine for years and years and years,” said DeCraene.

A Wisconsin law that started in June 2011 requires licenses for breeders who sell more than 25 puppies a year or shelters that have over 25 dogs in their possession.

But since the owners of the rescued cocker spaniels were neither selling dogs nor providing them for adoption, the new requirements didn’t apply to them.

“The laws says people can give away as many as they want without having to be licensed,” said DeCraene. “But she had way too many.”

She said this case, from southwestern Wisconsin, is under investigation.

“(The dogs’ owner) reached out to Cocker Spaniel Resources to help her get rid of her dogs,” said DeCraene.

She said the most recent group was supposed to be delivered in February, but the owner’s husband was ill and died then.

“We said we would take all of them. We wanted to make sure they would all get out,” said DeCraene. “But they didn’t – that I know. I know she kept some back, but I don’t know how many.”

The CSR volunteers took the dogs directly to Lupine Kennels near Amery, where they will be treated, groomed and temperament-tested.

At the shelter all the dogs will be spayed or neutered, inoculated and given dental care. The cost for this basic veterinary care is around $400 each, said DeCraene.

The dogs with severe ear infections will need to have their ears ablated (sealed), a surgical procedure that costs $1,500.

In some of the cockers, a row of eyelashes has turned under, scratching the cornea. The cost for surgery to repair that is about $1,800.

Once the animals are treated, they will be released to foster homes and later to permanent homes, said DeCraene, noting that CSR will pay half of the $40 a month for life cost of eye medications needed by the dogs with dry eye.

DeCraene, who holds a Master’s degree in education, taught for 32 years and has been involved with humane societies in one way or another since 1978. She founded CSR in 2006.

Since then CSR, licensed by Wisconsin to rescue dogs, has taken in well over 600 cocker spaniels and other breeds;

Along with foster and permanent homes, CSR needs financial contributions and donations of dog food and other animal supplies.

For more information about the nonprofit, go to www.cockerspanielresources.org or call 715-222-9532.

The address is Cocker Spaniel Resources Inc., P.O. Box 822, Hudson, WI 54016.

For the complete story, please see the March 13 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

  Warning: Some of the images attached to this story may be graphic.

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