BONNER COUNTY, Idaho — When bad things happen in a community, Better Together Animal Alliance officials said two reactions are possible — outrage or positive action.
When several dozen husky-type dogs were abandoned in Bonner County and adjacent areas, BTAA officials said the community chose the latter, as reported by our news partners, the Bonner County Daily Bee.
"When negative events happen within a community, there are two ways to react — with anger, blame, and frustration, or with positive action, compassion, and support," Mandy Evans, BTAA executive director, said.
Two former Bonner County residents — Jacob M. McCowan, 45, and Jessica L. Smurtwaite, 31 — are charged with 31 criminal counts of animal cruelty and abandonment in connection to the abandonment of the dogs in the south and western portions of Bonner County, bordering both Kootenai County and Pend Oreille County, Wash.
While 31 dogs have been identified and documented as being connected to the case, BCSO officials said another five or more dogs were reported to be roaming in the Spirit Lake, Athol and Blanchard areas that could be connected to the case.
In addition to the dogs being cared for in foster homes in Bonner County, additional dogs are under the care of Kootenai Humane Society in Hayden, or in foster homes arranged through that facility.
BTAA officials said they have received donations from people throughout the region to help fund the dog's medical care and supplies. In addition, the animal care facility has received numerous food and supply donations from local residents as well as other animal welfare organizations as far south as Lewiston. Local businesses and groups, among them EzyDog, Petco, STCU in Newport, Inland Empire Sled Dog Association, Sleep Sweet Pet Beds, Steidl Family Chiropractic and Waldorf School volunteers have helped, BTAA officials said. That support has come in the form of everything from collars and leashes to toys and treats.
No effort has gone unnoticed, Evans said.
“The entire community came together to rally around these dogs and our organization,” said Evans. “We are so humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support, and are proud to be able to support the needs of animals in our community.”
In all, BTAA has helped provide care to 23 dogs related to the case, officials with the animal assistance group said. The dogs were, or still are, being treated for lower gastrointestinal issues caused by parasites and bacteria, including E. coli.
Evans said the dogs are being cared for in homes thanks to several community members who volunteered to provide permanent and foster homes for these special dogs — a challenge all its own, Evans said.
“We believe that many of these dogs have little socialization with people and exhibit behavior that requires a lot of patience and compassion,” she added. “The people who are currently caring for these dogs aren’t just monitoring their health, they’re introducing them to a new living situation that they’ve likely never experienced. It’s a lot of slow-going work and we are beyond grateful for their big hearts and willingness to take this on.”
In the wake of an experience such as this, Evans said BTAA employees and volunteers wanted to express their gratitude and appreciation for everyone who donated, provided support, and continues to follow along as these dogs heal.
"This experience is proof that positivity and compassion can overcome great challenges," Evans said.
The Bonner County Daily Bee is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.