HANCOCK — Three dead dogs and 41 living dogs and puppies were found at a rural kennel Sunday night while authorities were handling an investigation into the owner and business.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Rob Ambrose said no charges have been filed against the owner of the dog kennel business, but more information will be released Tuesday.
Local and county animal control officials have said it was a “worst-case scenario” and all hands were needed to help make space for the sick dogs, who were found malnourished and suffering from parasites.
Nine dogs are currently unaccounted for, authorities said.
Dustin Young, 35, told the Nonpareil he is the owner of the business, called Young Gunz Kennel. The business website said Young breeds and trains pointing Labrador retrievers. He said one dog contracted distemper, a viral disease, which spread and killed two others.
“I’m getting in touch with everyone, getting things taken care of, under control and making things right,” Young said.
Young added that he is currently contacting all owners of the dogs to make sure they can come get them.
“I apologize for everything that has happened and willing to own up to it, do anything in my power to replace them,” Young said of the deceased dogs.
Young, who was not on the scene Sunday when authorities came to rescue the dogs, said he was in the hospital due to a medical condition.
He said the dogs were kept in a good environment and taken care of.
However, Pottawattamie County Planning Director Matt Wyant said the animals were found in awful condition. The county Planning Department oversees animal control operations.
He called the scene a worst-case scenario, and is trying to contact dog owners from California, Missouri, Michigan and elsewhere that had their dogs kenneled with Young.
Authorities are now working to find shelter, food and medicine for the rescued dogs.
The inside of the business building was covered in feces, with no food or water, while another building was also in a similar state.
“This is one of the craziest situations,” Wyant said.
The three deceased dogs were found inside individual kennels. It looked like some dogs had been abandoned for some time, he said, while others in another building on-site were more recently taken care of but still mistreated.
“It’s been tough as people show up to find their dogs,” Wyant said. One man nearly passed out because his two dogs weren’t there, he added.
Young said he plans to move on once the situation is resolved.
He said he’s been running the business for about a year and a half, taking care of hunting dogs for owners across the country while housing animals for locals needing a dog-sitter.
Nikki Cruickshank, executive director with Midlands Humane Society in Council Bluffs, said all the living dogs are currently stable but need medical care and food.
Testing for distemper and other viruses will take time, possibly two weeks, before they can be sure the dogs are clean.
Cruickshank said the organization has received immense help from area rescue groups and others wanting to provide for the animals.
“We are so thankful for everyone who has helped out,” she said. “It takes a village, and everyone here is willing to help.”