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Published July 30, 2013, 03:02 PM

N.D. breeder waives rights to 170-plus seized dogs

A Wheatland man whose 170-some dogs were seized from his apparent puppy mill earlier this month waived his rights to regain them in Cass County District Court, paving the way for the animals – 10 of whom are expecting more puppies – to be adopted by others.

By: Emily Welker, Forum News Service

FARGO – A Wheatland man whose 170-some dogs were seized from his apparent puppy mill earlier this month waived his rights to regain them in Cass County District Court, paving the way for the animals – 10 of whom are expecting more puppies – to be adopted by others.

Darcy Darrell Smith, 51, of Wheatland, was not at Tuesday morning’s civil court hearing that was set to decide whether he could regain custody of some of his former dogs. He filed a stipulation Monday waiving his rights to the dogs.

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said Judge Steven McCullough’s order giving the sheriff custody of the dogs will allow him to begin working with local rescue agency 4 Luv of Dog to seek permanent homes through the community. All but 13 are eligible for adoption.

Laney said he would defer to the rescue organization’s procedure for seeking homes for the animals, since they have expertise in finding new homes for dogs.

“It’s not just something that happens in a couple of minutes,” he said. “The last thing we’re going to do is place them in another puppy mill situation or another bad situation.”

Cass County prosecutors said they were still considering whether to charge Smith with a crime after authorities seized the dogs from his breeding operation July 10. Officials said many of the dogs were being kept in poor conditions, with as many as five dogs stacked in some kennels coated with the animals’ waste.

Prosecutors said today they are waiting for additional documentation of the dogs’ medical conditions.

The estimated costs of caring for and treating the dogs was well over $30,000, prosecutors said, even with the substantial donations of time, work and goods made by Casselton Veterinary Clinic, who housed and treated the dogs upon their seizure.

Check back later for an update on this developing story.

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