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Portland, N.D., dog breeder investigated for ‘trashing’ live dog

The sheriff in Traill County said he has investigated allegations that breeders threw a live dog into the trash at a dog breeding operation near Portland and has forwarded his findings to the state’s attorney for possible prosecution.

Traill County Sheriff Mike Crocker confirmed that his department has completed an investigation into allegations that a former employee at the Barkin’ Barnyard Kennels discovered that an injured dog had been thrown into the garbage last week.

The kennel’s owners deny that a still-living dog had been thrown away.

The employee, Kevin Nelson of Mayville, said he discovered the dog in the trash Friday after having asked the kennel’s owners, Jim and Kimberlee Scales, where the injured animal had been taken for care Wednesday.

He claims he found the dog after it had clawed its way to the top of a trash pile.

Nelson said the owners had assured him the dog was being cared for after it had been attacked by other dogs. He characterized the breeding operation as a puppy mill and estimated that it housed between 100 and 120 dogs at the facility, which he said was clean and in good condition.

He said, however, that the dogs lacked socialization, and their high numbers and proximity to female dogs in heat had increased attacks and injuries among their population of late.

Nelson said that when he discovered the dog in the trash, he asked the owners to let him take it to get veterinarian care, but they refused.

“It was disgusting,” he said. “If you would have seen the look on the dog’s face.”

Nelson said he was fired Friday after the confrontation over the dog after 5½ years working at the breeding operation.

Crocker said he was unfamiliar with the overall size of the breeding operation, and he didn’t characterize it as a puppy mill.

He said the kennels had been clean and that the dogs all had food and water. He would not say whether any other animals on the property had been found injured.

Crocker said he also had sent the case on to the North Dakota state veterinarian for review.

He said possible charges included improper disposal of an animal.

Jim Scales said he was surprised to hear he was being considered for possible charges.

He said the dog was not alive when it was disposed of, and that as far as he knew he hadn’t violated any regulations for disposing of dead animals.

He said Nelson was a “disgruntled employee” who was unhappy to have been let go.

He said he did not run a puppy mill, and that it had been Nelson’s job to socialize the dogs.

“I don’t think this person is trying to be vigilant,” he said. “I think he’s trying to be vindictive.

“Dogs fight,” Scales said.

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