Nearly two weeks ago, the Mission Valley Animal Shelter received nine dogs that were rescued from the Mission Mountains.
“I’m still trying to track details,” Filip Panusz, director of the shelter, said late last week.
Panusz said it’s likely the pups were abandoned on purpose in the wild.
The dogs were originally discovered late last year when a county resident spotted them during a hike.
Each time she passed through the path, she told Panusz she checked on them to make sure they were okay.
“Thanks to her, these (dogs) made it through the winter,” he said.
It’s believed that the dogs, which Panusz said are mix-breed as some are smooth-coated and others have wirey coats with beards, are between 1 year and 2.5 years of age.
It’s difficult to know how old the dogs are, as Panusz said their teeth are not in good shape.
“They ate rocks which has worn their teeth down. They had a horrendous diet, if any. Their body condition has deteriorated” while fending for themselves on a mountainside, he explained.
Once the weather got a little warmer, the Good Samaritan rescued the dogs, prompting a swift call to action, Panusz said.
Since the shelter was already at maximum capacity, he said relying on neighboring facilities helped.
“The (shelter manager) and I came up with a plan” that involved reaching out to the Missoula Humane Society, who took five dogs already housed at MVAS.
Some of the newly rescued dogs were able to be kept together since they survived the winter together, freeing up kennel space.
Calling on as many volunteers as he could, Panusz said about 40 people showed up at the shelter on a Sunday morning to help worm, bath and assess the nine dogs, which staff believe are all siblings.
None of the dogs have been spayed or neutered prior to their rescue, and Panusz said for now, they are all too unhealthy to have the procedures performed.
Panusz is urging the public to be aware of the responsibility that comes with having an animal.
“If you’re in a bind and you have animals you can’t care for, there are options,” he said, which do not include leaving those animals in the wild.
“There are better options,” including taking animals to shelters.
To obtain information about fostering or adopting dogs with MVAS, as well as donations and volunteer opportunities, visit their Facebook page or call (406) 883-5312.