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Hopeful news for 63 dogs found at murder scene

By Pat Reavy and Shara Park, | Posted - Apr 10th, 2013 @ 2:46pm

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BOISE — As more horrific details emerge from the crime scene in Holbrook, Idaho, where three people were found dead, hopeful news was also being reported about the nearly 70 pit bulls taken from the property.

The Idaho Humane Society reported that 63 of the dogs arrived at their shelter in Boise on Monday night.

"Initial examinations of the dogs found them to be in very poor body condition. The majority of the dogs are underweight and suffering from malnutrition. Many of the dogs had open lacerations and extensive scarring from old wounds. Many are suffering from skin, eye, and ear ailments resulting from neglect of their basic care. A few dogs have old injuries of broken bones that were left untreated," the humane society wrote on its blog.

In addition, KIDK in Idaho Falls reported that the Oneida County sheriff told them that it appeared the bodies of deceased dogs on the property were fed to the other dogs. At least one deceased pit bull was found in a freezer, the station reported.

Due to its continuous seizures, one dog was euthanized Tuesday. But the Idaho Humane Society also reported that the majority of the dogs they received appeared "to be friendly and accepting of handling by people."

"We were a little perplexed at how extraordinarily friendly these dogs are," said Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, veterinarian and CEO of the Idaho Humane Society. "The concern is maybe they're not dangerous to other people, but maybe they're dangerous to other dogs. It just depends on if they were fought or not. They may have been there for other purposes."


Many of the younger dogs did not appear to have scars, Rosenthal said. But "a lot of older dogs do have lots and lots of scars" on their legs and faces.

"There are about seven or eight dogs that came in with open lacerations on faces, and a lot of wounds indicating recent activity," he said.

Some of the dogs were still bleeding when they arrived in Boise. It is believed some of the animals may have been fighting as recently as within the last week.

Most of the dogs that were seized were in the 20-pound range, something that dog fighters prefer, Rosenthal said. National experts were being flown to Boise to evaluate the temperament of the pit bulls to determine if they are even adoptable.

Another concern is getting all of the animals spayed and neutered as quickly as possible.

"As soon as they're sterilized, the dog fighting community will quickly lose interest in them," he said.

Dog fighting is such big business that Rosenthal said it was very important to get the dogs into the larger, more secure Humane Society facility in Boise as quickly as possible. The Oneida County Sheriff's Office said it could not provide around-the-clock security for a long time, Rosenthal said.

That's important, he said, recalling a similar incident that occurred in almost the same area in 2007. According to Rosenthal, authorities had seized 50 pit bulls from a fighting operation when the deputy watching the dogs was called away on a fake 911 call. Other dog fighters quickly descended on the area and stole all the dogs that the department had just seized, he said.

The concern is maybe they're not dangerous to other people, but maybe they're dangerous to other dogs.

–Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, Idaho Humane Society

Taking in all of the pit bulls has been a huge undertaking for the Idaho Humane Society. Rosenthal said the dogs cannot be kept in the same pens, so they have taken up about 25 percent of the facility's capacity. The shelter had to have other area shelters take some of their other animals, and the shelter has put a temporary stop on accepting any other animals from the public.

In addition to the Boise facility being secure, Rosenthal said Boise police were providing temporary extra security.

On April 5, authorities found the bodies of Yavette Chivon Carter, 27, Trent Jon Christensen, 32, and Brent L. Christensen, 61, all shot to death inside their Idaho home, located in an isolated area about 20 miles west of Malad. Carter and Trent Christensen's 2-year-old and 2-month-old daughters were found unharmed — the younger girl found in the clenched arms of her dead mother.

The two girls were placed with Carter's grandmother. A benefit was started on Facebook to help raise money for them.

An obituary for Carter listed her date of death as April 4. It said she was engaged to Trent Christensen. The funeral for Carter is scheduled for Friday in Idaho.

The Box Elder County Sheriff's Office provided mugshots of the Christensens, who at one point lived or worked in the county.

As of Wednesday, the sheriff's office had not announced any possible suspects or motive for the crime.

The Idaho Humane Society reported it was not adopting out the seized pit bulls at this point, but would accept donations to help pay for their medical treatments, feeding and sheltering.


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