Dog collector gets help with his 400 pooches

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Richard Hall's dog yard became more manageable this week after about 100 local volunteers set up an assembly line to spay, neuter euthanize or adopt out many of the nearly 400 dogs he was keeping.

The volunteers spayed or neutered 70 to 100 dogs a day at a makeshift clinic in the Goldstream Valley.

Hall has roughly 200 dogs left in his brood. But he's still mourning the dogs that were put down or released for adoption. Volunteers are caring for the dozens of dogs as they wait for permanent homes.

There's been a tear or two. It's just kind of sad to walk around and realize ... there's some I shouldn't have parted with,'' Hall said. Anyhow, it will get better. I hope.''

The endeavor to help Hall downsize and get his dogs physically fit some dogs suffered from malnutrition, dehydration and other ailments came after Hall told a couple of local veterinarians he was worried about his ability to maintain all his dogs.

The volunteer effort took months to plan. It involved an outpouring of donations from community groups, veterinarians and local businesses.

Animal control officials say there were regular complaints against Hall, but each time he responded. Over the years, the borough has regularly cited Hall for offenses such as dogs that weren't immunized or were running loose.

Mr. Hall was basically trying to do things to the best of his abilities. He had no malicious intent,'' said Tim Biggane, who oversees animal control for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

He's guilty of having a caring heart,'' Biggane says, and cracking down didn't seem right.

When we get into the judiciary process, it's a slow process. It's not beneficial to either party. It takes a lot of time and a lot of money.''

Dave Pauli, regional director for the Humane Society of the United States, said the effort involving Hall is a unique one.

Pauli travels the country handling animal crises. He doesn't often respond to multi-animal cases involving a single owner, especially without impetus from the courts.

Any legal recourse would have been a long, dragged-out affair, and somebody would have had to care for those 400 animals,'' Pauli said.

I think Mr. Hall is making great efforts in trying to (compromise). He was wonderful. He made many, many tough decisions each day.''

Half of Hall's dogs were euthanized, adopted or put in foster care. Dogs were put down for reasons such as ill temperament or bad health. The dogs that were adopted include a puppy adopted by a Humane Society veterinarian who lives in New York. Neighbors also adopted dogs.

A borough animal-control officer is looking after 74 dogs on her property in Salcha. Those dogs are available for adoption.

Hall says he misses the dogs that are gone. He was reached by cell phone at a grocery store, where he had stopped to buy hot dogs to use to administer medicine to some of his remaining animals.

Hall doesn't believe in euthanizing dogs, but he's had to compromise that philosophy.

I was warehousing some man-eaters, some really bad characters,'' he said. They (the Humane Society) kind of got me to change the philosophy on some of that stuff.''

Hall appreciates the effort to help him: A bunch of good people volunteered.''

Jeanne Olson, a borough veterinarian who helped organize the effort, said volunteers are working to help Hall reorganize his yard and come up with a plan to care for the remaining dogs.

Olson and Pauli said some of Hall's dogs are unwanted pets that people have brought to him and he's taken in.

Despite Hall's situation, Olson doesn't believe the borough should limit the number of animals residents can own.

I don't think anybody lives in Alaska to have more rules,'' she said. It's important for us to be able to self-regulate. I would hate to make another law on the books.''

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