SOLON — The need is urgent for public contributions to support more than 100 animals rescued from R-N-D Kennels last week, according to a press release the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry sent out Wednesday.

Although animal welfare workers managed to rescue 107 animals in dire straights from the property at 196 Rowell Mountain Road, they are faced with new challenges involving a lack of space and resources at the emergency shelter where the animals are being kept, which has yet to be disclosed to protect the animals and workers.

“Our next hurdle is to move to an emergency shelter that is larger and better equipped,” Liam Hughes, Maine’s animal welfare director, said.

Of the 107 animals seized, the 96 dogs pose the biggest problem, according to Hughes.

“We are trying to give the dogs the individual care they need, but this temporary shelter site is too small,” Hughes said. “We are working to move to a new location so we can focus on rehabilitation.”

Six cats, three chickens and two horses were also rescued and continue to receive treatment from animal welfare workers.

Animals are removed from a property in Solon on July 23 after state officials executed a search warrant and seized 107 animals. Photo courtesy of Maine Animal Welfare

Initially, the agriculture department noted that about a dozen organizations and agencies provided volunteers and assistance in the case, including the Franklin County Animal Shelter and Kennebec Valley Humane Society.

In its most recent release, the state agency reiterated that anyone who wishes to volunteer or donate supplies should check with a local animal shelter. Among the items needed are pads, blankets, towels, sheets, dog toys, paper towels, cleaning supplies and dog food and treats.

Donations are also being accepted at maine.gov/dacf/animals.

Officials have yet to say what led them to R-N-D Kennels, where a search warrant was executed by state animal welfare workers accompanied by Somerset County officers on July 23.

Donna Noyes, founder and owner of R-N-D Kennels according to the business website, claims to have been breeding rough-coat collies since 2004. The website also says that the kennels occupy a 14-acre site and that the property was redesigned to “ensure the safety” of the collies and farm animals.

But when Somerset County Chief Deputy Michael Mitchell pulled up to the scene, he saw a different picture.

“It didn’t look like a farm to me. When I pulled up, I thought, ‘Where do they keep 80 animals?’” Mitchell said. “Some of the dogs looked like they were in real bad shape, like they were malnourished. I mean they could’ve been. How do you feed and care for that many animals?”

Officials originally thought the number of animals rescued was 80, but Britt said later that the number was more than 100, though he did not say how or when officials were able to come up with that number.

While the property looked inadequate for the number of animals, the treatment the animals received and the lasting effects they have suffered according to their owners raises questions about why the operation hadn’t been investigated sooner.

Dr. Paul Gervais adopted his dog, Jack, from Noyes two years ago. Since visiting the kennels, he has wondered whether Noyes was really running a puppy mill.

“When we went to get Jack, we drove up to the property and were taken to the backyard,” Gervais said. “There was three or four cages with about 25 collies in each one. So you’re looking at probably 75 total. Some of them were missing hair, some looked to be in poor health. … When we went inside, it was very dark, and the house was in disarray. There were animals caged up everywhere. In the dining room, there were two Dobermans in one cage, with one being pregnant. There were a number of cats caged up. …

“We had a funny feeling about what she was running up there, but we didn’t want to give her trouble if that wasn’t the case.”

Gervais said his dog exhibits anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder and has problems with socialization, all symptoms Gervais said probably stem from poor treatment in the first few months of life.

Dawna Keeler, another R-N-D collie owner, said her dog, Tristram, exhibits the same behavior as Gervais’ dog but at one point had to be medicated for severe anxiety.

“He was put on trazodone, and I thought to myself, what dog needs to be put on anxiety medication?” Keeler said.

Keeler also noted that her dog can become aggressive around strangers and seems to worry about whether it will be fed consistently.

“I can have him around my son who lives with us, but when I tried to introduce him to my older son, Tristram nearly attacked him. So kids and strangers are out of the question right now,” Keeler said. “He also acts like he doesn’t know when his next meal will be. The way he eats makes it seem like he’s very worried he doesn’t know when he’ll be fed again. … (Noyes) has done something really bad here. I can’t even imagine what he went through when he was with her.”

The animals are now considered evidence as legal proceedings are expected to develop in the next several weeks.

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