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Published: Tuesday, 5/21/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Idaho refugee learning ‘how to be a dog’

Local Pit Crew takes in Monty, rescued from slaying scene

"Dogs from this situation aren't willing participants," Jean Keating, of the Lucas County Pit Crew, said of the group's newest foster, one and a half year-old Monty. "They're victims, and I'd hope we'd treat them like we would any other victim of drama." "Dogs from this situation aren't willing participants," Jean Keating, of the Lucas County Pit Crew, said of the group's newest foster, one and a half year-old Monty. "They're victims, and I'd hope we'd treat them like we would any other victim of drama."
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The Lucas County Pit Crew normally focuses on rescuing dogs only from Lucas County.

But the rescue and advocacy group for “pit bull”-type dogs decided to make an exception in the case of Monty.

The 18-month-old white-and-brown dog was one of 63 dogs rescued from the scene of a triple homicide in Holbrook, Idaho, in early April. He arrived in Toledo Sunday evening.

“Our goal is to teach Monty how to be a dog and enjoy all that life has to offer,” said Jean Keating, executive director of the Lucas County Pit Crew. “The world he has known has not been kind to him.”

Ms. Keating and Lucas County Pit Crew board member Karen St. Jean drove Monty back from Cheyenne, Wyo., where Idaho Humane Society volunteers met them. The sweet-natured and friendly dog has been nicknamed “Pancake Boy,” because when he’s unsure of himself or his surroundings, he drops low to the ground.

“But there’s a fun-loving dog just waiting to come out of him,” Ms. Keating said. “He just hasn’t had any typical life experiences.”

On Sunday night, an ice cube came out of the refrigerator door in the kitchen where he was sitting and he got very scared.

“He pancaked and commando-crawled back into his crate,” Ms. Keating said.

But earlier in the evening, he was mesmerized watching a birdbath.

“It’s very, very weird just to watch him looking at things that he’s obviously seeing for the first time,” Ms. Keating said.

The Idaho Humane Society took the 63 dogs at its shelter in Boise. Police believe many of the dogs had been trained for fighting.

“Initial examinations of the dogs found them to be in very poor body condition,” the Humane Society wrote on its blog. “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.”

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.”

OBJECTe4ffeadc-9d9d-4a6c-a4be-f7d9621a23c3Eleven of the dogs had to be euthanized because of dangerous behavior. Idaho Humane Society Communication Outreach Coordinator Hannah Parpart described them as being “hyper focused” on fighting other dogs, and she said staff felt they wouldn’t be safe in homes.

Ms. Keating said Monty is not showing any aggression around other dogs but is “damaged emotionally,” and it will take time for him to learn to live in a normal environment. He is being fostered in an undisclosed location in the Toledo area. The group is keeping the location private to head off any concerns about having a “fighting” dog in the neighborhood, even though it does not appear Monty was used in fighting because he has no scars.

BAD RAP, a nationally recognized “pit bull” advocacy and rescue group based in Oakland, Calif. — which gained national attention in 2007 when it assisted in evaluating the “pit bulls” seized from NFL star Michael Vick — traveled to Boise soon after the dogs arrived and helped evaluate each of the animals.

Tim Racer and Donna Reynolds, the group’s co-founders, thought Monty would be a good fit for the Pit Crew.

“They thought it would be good to pair him with a confident dog,” Ms. Keating said. “He’s basically a scaredy-cat. He just needs time and he’ll come around.”

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 in an isolated area about 20 miles west of Malad City.

Carter and Trent Christensen’s 2-year-old and 2-month-old daughters were found unharmed. The younger girl was found in the clenched arms of her dead mother.

Police do not have a suspect and the Oneida County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate. The home was the site of a marijuana-growing operation and a dog-fighting ring.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066, or on Twitter at @TanyaIrwin.

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