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State officials seized about 20 dogs from a property on Coldbrook Road in Hampden on Tuesday after their owner allegedly kept them in an unheated barn even as temperatures dropped well below freezing recently.
The state learned that the dogs were being kept in those conditions after their owner sought a license to breed them, according to Liam Hughes, director of Maine’s animal welfare program.
That prompted officials to inspect the property. Initially, they issued warnings to improve the care the dogs were receiving. But when the care didn’t improve and temperatures plummeted over the past week, Hughes’ office got a search warrant to remove the animals from the property and place them in shelters.
The local temperature was around 15 degrees early Thursday afternoon and was projected to drop to 4 degrees in the evening, according to the National Weather Service.
“It’s the conditions that the dogs are being kept in that’s our biggest concern,” Hughes said outside the property on Tuesday. “Those dogs are very cold,”
The dogs were a large breed that appeared to be similar to Great Dane. Around 12:30 p.m., state and local authorities were still removing them from the barn, inspecting them and placing them into crates. They were still evaluating how many animals were on the site, according to Hughes.
Occasionally, one of the dogs let out a loud, howling bark.
Hughes said that it was particularly challenging to find a shelter for the dogs given how large they are. “They are not your average dog,” he said.
Officials also removed a siamese cat and a horse that were on the property, which is just south of the intersection with Papermill Road. While the stallion did not appear to be kept in poor conditions, he was “difficult to handle,” Hughes said.
The property includes a barn and two residential structures: an unoccupied two-story home and a single-story wooden building where the owner lived.
“It remains to be seen” whether the owner will be charged with violating any animal welfare laws, Hughes said.