Earlier this summer, authorities rescued more than 150 dogs from a property in Pine River -- but two months later, their future is still tied up in legal limbo and the cost of keeping them in quarantine is soaring.
On the website for her horse stable and dog breeding business, Deborah Rowell advertises everything from Rottweiler to Springer Spaniel puppies. Yet, prosecutors say the pups on her property, located about 155 miles north of Minneapolis, were living in filthy conditions.
In July, Cass County deputies seized more than 100 dogs and 29 puppies. Rowell was charged with violating the state's animal cruelty laws for not providing appropriate shelter, ventilation or even water to the animals.
Since then, the dogs have been under quarantine at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, but they're unable to be adopted or even placed in foster homes while Rowell appeals the seizure. Usually, that process takes 10 days, but this case has stretched on to nearly two months.
"We feel like our hands are tied in doing anything with these dogs because it's been tied up in these motions," said County Attorney Christopher Strandue. "At least we know they are being cared for appropriately. It's not an ideal situation, but we know they are not in danger."
Yet, the Humane Society is in danger of running out of money. The organization sent out an e-mail to donors asking for financial help because the costs of caring for the seized dogs -- and the 70 or so puppies they've had since -- has topped $135,000.
In the meantime, Rowell's attorney says his client has fixed the problems on her property and intends to continue to sue the county until she gets the dogs back.
"Terrible, terrible injustice for this woman," said attorney Stephen Grigsby.
A judge ordered Rowell to pay at least $86,000 to cover the cost of the dogs' care. If she doesn't, the Humane Society will be allowed to find them new homes.
"My client will do anything in her power to get those dogs back," Grigsby said. "Right now, the costs are so excessive; she's not able to post that bond. So, our hope now is that the court of appeals will hear this matter, will stay this order until we can get a reasonable bond and she can get the dogs back."