It was one of those unusual issues that you just hope is some sort of a misunderstanding, but it surely doesn’t appear to be.
Barton County came close to providing the final resting place for more than 1,000 dogs that either are being or already have been euthanized by state officials and volunteers in what has to be one of the largest animal abuse cases in the history of the nation.
At Monday morning’s Barton County Commission meeting, towards the close of the meeting, under “other business,” Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg asked County Administrator Richard Boeckman for more information on a notation in Boeckman’s update for commissioners regarding the possibility of the carcasses being disposed of in the Barton County Landfill.
Boeckman explained that Landfill Manager Mark Witt had contacted him last week, explaining that, since Barton County maintains a state-approved regional landfill, he’d been contacted about this situation that had developed near Oberlin, the county seat of Decatur County in northwest Kansas, just south of the Nebraska border.
Witt had been contacted by state officials from the Kansas Animal Health Department about the probable necessity of disposing of 1,200 dog carcasses.
The dogs were in the process of being euthanized after being removed from a huge breeding facility, Witt had been told. Boeckman said it had been reported that the sound of the dogs barking could be heard miles away from the dog site.
While Witt explained that he was contacted because the local landfill is state-approved, he said he could not discuss the details of the case, which did not involve local officials.
Boeckman told the commissioners Monday that Witt was told late last week that the Barton County facility would not be needed because arrangements had been made with a local land owner to dispose of the dogs there.
A KAHD Topeka official did not return a call from the Tribune Monday, seeking the details of this particular incident.
Across Kansas, animal shelter officials have been working to take in dogs rescued from breeding facilities impacted by the national economic recession.
Less spending power means fewer expensive dogs being purchased, and that eventually trickles down to the breeding sites, which can house hundreds of dogs.
The Louisburg Herald, for instance, reported a month ago that a shelter in Ottawa was accepting 17 of 200 dogs that had been surrendered by a “puppy mill in western Kansas” to the KAHD.
“The 200 dogs relinquished from the puppy mill went to 10 shelters around the state. Debra Duncan, director of the Animal Facilities Inspection Program at the Kansas Animal Health Department, said the 200 dogs were surrendered through a consent agreement from a puppy mill in western Kansas that remains in business. The department does not release specifics to keep from discouraging puppy mills to use its consensual surrender program, according to the release,” according to a report in the Herald in early November.
It was just one of several reports that turned up in recent months, detailing the need to remove dogs from the financially-stressed breeding facilities around rural Kansas.