63 pit bulls from Idaho triple homicide scene sent to shelter

Published: Wednesday, April 10 2013 2:42 p.m. MDT

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

The Idaho Humane Society said 63 of the dogs have arrived 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 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.

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."

In fact, Humane Society CEO Jeff Rosenthal said his staff has been "perplexed" at how "extraordinarily friendly" the dogs have been around humans.

But whether the dogs are friendly around other dogs is something that still needed to be evaluated. And Rosenthal said that also didn't take away from the fact that most of the pit bulls were in very poor condition. One dog had to be euthanized Tuesday because of continuous seizures, he said.

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.

The Oneida County sheriff said that it appeared the bodies of deceased dogs on the property had been fed to the other dogs, according to KIDK in Idaho Falls. At least one deceased pit bull was found in a freezer, the station reported.

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.

"The concern is they're not dangerous to people but may be quite dangerous to other dogs," Rosenthal said. "We want to give all these dogs the best chance of being evaluated."

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.

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.

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.

E-mail: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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