HANCOCK, Iowa — Three dogs were found dead and 41 were found in poor condition at a boarding/breeding kennel in rural Pottawattamie County on Sunday night, authorities said.
Nine dogs are unaccounted for, and an investigation is underway.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Lt. Rob Ambrose said Monday that no charges had been filed against the owner of the kennel but that more information would be released Tuesday.
Animal control officials have described awful conditions inside the kennel.
Dustin Young, 35, said he owns the business, Young Gunz Kennel. He said one dog contracted distemper, a viral disease, which spread and killed two others.
“I’m getting in touch with (the owners), getting things taken care of, under control and making things right,” Young said. “I apologize for everything that has happened and am willing to own up to it, do anything in my power to replace (the dogs that died),” Young said.
Young said he has been in the hospital.
Young breeds and trains hunting dogs, including dogs owned by others. He also boards dogs. The business specializes in pointing Labrador retrievers.
He said the dogs were kept in a good environment and taken care of, something that Pottawattamie County Planning Director Matt Wyant disputes. The County Planning Department oversees animal control operations.
He said he is trying to contact dog owners in California, Missouri, Michigan and elsewhere.
The inside of the business building was covered in feces, with no food or water. Another building was in a similar state.
“This is one of the craziest situations,” Wyant said.
The three dead dogs were found inside individual kennels. It looked like some dogs had been abandoned for some time, he said, while others 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.
Nikki Cruickshank, executive director of the 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 disease-free.
Authorities are working to find shelter, food and medicine for the rescued dogs. 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.”