Nov. 13, 2006

Delano woman part of 'dog rescue' trip to Fargo

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

A Delano woman was part of a unique rescue mission to Fargo, N.D. recently after learning of a house fire that left more than 30 dogs potentially homeless.

Kim Curtis of Delano, who is a foster caretaker for Miniature Pinscher Rescue, along with rescue coordinator Marie Winterburn, traveled from Delano to Fargo Oct. 25.

Winterburn arrived in Delano from South St. Paul at about 7 a.m. The two loaded up a van from floor to ceiling with kennels, and made the three-and-a-half hour drive to Fargo.

The two stopped at a fast food restaurant to eat before heading to the house. While at the restaurant, one of the workers knew exactly where the house was, and said it wasn’t in the best of condition. Curtis and Winterburn took their food to go, and made their way to the home.

“There were 32 dogs, all living in different kennels down in the basement,” Curtis said, adding most were a year to a year-and-a-half old. She said some dogs were outside the residence, and most were in kennels that had not been cleaned out for a while. Out of the 32 dogs, only two were neutered, she said.

“The kennels had feces in them, and most dogs had such long nails,” Curtis said. “You just have to wonder what their lives were like living in the basement of that house.”

Curtis and Winterburn loaded up the dogs, and shortly before 1 p.m., they were on their way back home.

While on their way back from Fargo, Curtis said both she and Winterburn were talking on their cell phones, making arrangements and contacting potential foster homes for the dogs in the back of the van.

“It was such an adrenaline rush,” she said. They wanted to be back in the area in time to get to the humane society. They arrived after the society normally closes, but someone stayed there to wait for them. The dogs have since been placed in foster homes until permanent homes can be found for the animals.

Curtis, who has opened her home as a foster home for dogs last fall, said it’s fun to have an extra dog to play with her dog, Murphy.

“Even with three or four (dogs), it’s too hard,” she said. “Three dogs here is plenty.”

As a foster caretaker, Curtis said she could have the dogs anywhere from six days to four months.

Some of the dogs that were rescued had probably never seen toys, or never even gone outside to go to the bathroom. Miniature pinschers get between 12 to 15 pounds, full- size, she said.

“They’re not dogs for everybody,” Curtis said, noting they can be sort of territorial, and also need a longer time to get housebroken.

“You do get attached to them,” she said. “We need more foster homes out this way.”

“They’re such snuggle bunnies,” she said of the two who were at her house. “They’re so much fun.”

The house fire that led to the dog rescue

Roger Purkey, who was at the residence on 7th Street in Fargo the morning of Oct. 27, heard a smoke detector going off, according to the Fargo Fire Department.

Purkey discovered the fire in a bedroom, and attempted to put the fire out himself. He was unsuccessful, and left the home to call 911.

In an interview with authorities, neither Purkey, or the home’s owner, Rosemary Chenze, knew what could have started the fire.

It was noted in the report that there was a lot of debris throughout the home, making it difficult for firefighters to fight the blaze.

“The fire appeared to have started in the bedroom in the southwest corner of the main floor,” said Fargo Fire Marshal Norm Scott. “The cause of the fire appeared to be a faulty electrical wire by the bed.”

During the course of fighting the fire, authorities noted the number of dogs in the basement of the home, decided they weren’t in immediate danger, and left them in the basement until the fire was out.

Curtis said she did not think North Dakota has an ordinance that regulates the number of dogs a person can have, but said she was uncertain about the laws, and did not know if the homeowner was going to be fined or in any trouble for having so many dogs.

In fact, Curtis feels the homeowner will most likely start up operations all over again.

She said the homeowner was allowed to take two of the dogs back, and a family member was also allowed to take several of the dogs back.

“It seemed like she was breeding them, but not selling them,” Curtis said.

“I just hope they go to good homes,” she said. “You never would have guessed there were 32 dogs in the house.”

For more information

Curtis said more foster homes are needed in this area for dogs, and said people can call her at (763) 972-5655 for more information, or visit www.minpinrescue.org.

She also said that Jamie Reese of Fox 9 did an interview with Curtis and profiled the rescue on its broadcast recently.

“Channel 9 really did a good job with the story,” Curtis said.

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