Dogs rescued from UP explosion ready for adoption
HESSEL, MI – Some of the 47 dogs rescued from a house explosion in the Upper Peninsula late last year are set to find their forever homes.
Seven of the dogs have been adopted so far – three adults and four puppies, said Tina Newsome, administrator of the Mackinac County Animal Shelter, which took in most of the dogs when the November incident injured the owner. Many of the dogs were suffering from burns and smoke inhalation, and were underweight, she said. Two females were pregnant and have since given birth.
“Everyone who has been adopted has been wonderful,” Newsome said. “I think they’re just grateful.”
The dogs, mostly Alaskan huskies, are slowly becoming available as they heal from their wounds and are spayed and neutered, she said. At least 10 of the dogs will be spayed this month. Dogs who have suffered from smoke inhalation need time to recover before they can be safely anesthetized for the procedure.
The Alaskan Husky breed is a mixture of husky and greyhounds, which produces a small, short-haired dog with facial features similar to that of a husky, except for an elongated muzzle. Some of them only weigh 30 pounds, Newsome said. They are built to work.
Some dogs are still nervous and refuse to eat. Usually they “need a lot of work,” she said. They “can’t go to just any house.” Most of the time, they will all need fenced yards.
In some cases, dogs will have quirks. For example, one of the females refused to eat and repeatedly threw her food on the ground, Newsome said. The staff eventually realized that she used to eat off the floor and began to feed her in a dish instead of a bowl; she is eating now.
Although they were not socialized, none of the dogs were aggressive towards people, even during wound care, she said. Only one was aggressive towards other dogs.
Two of the rescued females gave birth at the shelter, Newsome said. Their nine puppies bring the total to 56 dogs. That number includes four 5 week old puppies and seven 12 week old puppies removed from the residence after the explosion.
Many dogs have suffered burns to their faces, especially around their eyes and to their ears, stomach and muzzle, photos show. Part of a dog’s muzzle has melted. Most of them were also underweight with protruding ribs and hips, officials said.
Police suspect the dogs were abused and neglected before the fire. What could have been a lengthy investigation and legal process were cut short when the owner, by proxy, waived his rights to the animals in December, Mackinac County Deputy Sheriff Ronald Umbarger said.
The dogs and their owner were rescued by an off-duty firefighter who rushed to the scene from his home. The explosion at Hessel’s residence started when the dog’s owner lit a cigarette too close to gasoline cans that had leaked fumes at her Hessel residence, police said. She and the firefighter were hospitalized.
The firefighter who was not on duty was the first on the scene. He took the woman out and then “threw the dogs out as fast as he could,” Mackinac County Sheriff Ed Wilk previously said. Dogs chained near the structure were released so that they could escape; a dozen dogs were released. Police quickly tracked down most of the dogs, but it took 13 days to capture the last one.
The previous owner had recently moved with the dogs from Alaska. The dogs may have been used for sled dog racing.