Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Go big: KHS seeks homes for rising intake of large-breed dogs

Staff Writer | November 11, 2022 1:05 AM

HAYDEN — Miguel is closing in on six months at the Kootenai Humane Society.

The terrier/pit bull mix transfer from California is almost 5 years old, friendly with a kind face.

“Such a sweetheart. He’s a big, strong boy but he thinks he weighs 2 pounds and he’ll sit in your lap,” said Vicky Nelson, KHS director of development.

But Miguel remains at the shelter, one of its longest-running residents.

While many have stopped in front of his kennel and looked him over, all have decided against taking him home.

For one primary reason: He’s big. Miguel weighs 72 pounds, so he’s a powerhouse.

“The big dogs aren’t getting adopted,” Nelson said Wednesday afternoon.

KHS has about 25 dogs available for adoption. Nearly all are considered big, in the 40-pound range or more, and thus take longer to find someone willing to adopt them.

Ten were transfers from other shelters, six were surrendered by owners and seven were strays picked up by animal control.

The no-kill shelter has retrievers, border collies, Dobermans, huskies, German shepherds, hounds and pit bulls that tip the scales from about 50 pounds to the 80s.

Most are younger, a year or two old, and they are coming to KHS in higher numbers and at a higher frequency.

“They seem to be coming in more and faster than they have in the past,” Nelson said.

KHS is receiving more large dogs that were surrendered because owners had to move due to rising housing costs, lost their rental home and could only find an apartment where dogs are not allowed.

“The housing market has finally kind of hit us,” Nelson said.

If they were chihuahuas, pomerians or pugs, under 20 pounds, they would be long gone by now.

“Small dogs go first,” Nelson said.

But larger dogs need more space, more food and maybe even an owner with more muscles.

“Older people usually can’t handle them,” Nelson said.

Big dog additions to KHS this year include:

  • Galilee, a 37-pound Australian Cattle dog that arrived May 10 from Texas.
  • Diesel, a 40-pound, American pit bull picked up by animal control in Coeur d’Alene.
  • Raphael, a 42-pound retriever transferred Aug. 10 from California.
  • Mr. Fitch, a 58-pound German shepherd mix, who came in a month ago.

In the past few days, several large dogs have been picked up by animal control, including a retriever that looked to be around 80 pounds and a stout husky.

So, KHS is spreading the word: If you’re considering adding a canine to your household, consider going big.

They can be friendly, lovable, enjoy playing ball, going for walks or better yet, runs.

“They’re here and they need homes,” Nelson said.

For instance, Dobby is a 50-pound hound, surrendered by its owner nearly five months ago.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with him, but he’s a hound. He likes to bay and follow his nose," Nelson said. "It has to be the right fit."

But KHS won’t give you a sales pitch on the wonders of big dogs. There won’t be a special on a 70-pound Labrador.

“It has to be something that relates to them,” Nelson said. “If somebody comes in for a small dog, you’re not going to push a big dog on them. Because when they get it home, if it’s not something they wanted, it’s coming back. That’s the last thing we want.”

Volunteer Mecha Clark walked Brutus on Wednesday. At one point, the terrier/pit bull mix flopped happily in the snow and rolled on his back.

Just a year old, he’s the proverbial bundle of energy.

“A good boy,” Clark said.

A big one, too, that needs a home.



Miguel looks out from his kennel at the Kootenai Humane Society on Wednesday.


Brutus leads Mecha Clark on a walk at the Kootenai Humane Society on Wednesday.


A dog looks through its kennel gate at the Kootenai Humane Society on Wednesday.

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