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Rally 'round the collies

A collie with sightly sunken eyes was too shy to walk on a leash and meet people.

But the dog, named Shelton after a county commissioner, allowed people to reach through the window of county Animal Control Officer Carol Barnes’ truck and calmly stroke his fur.

The older dog was one of the worst off of the 75 collies taken from a Camano Island home two weeks ago. Investigators said the dogs in the “puppy mill” were living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. The couple, who still legally own the dogs, are facing animal cruelty charges.

Despite their sad living conditions, people who’ve been around the dogs have found them to be sensitive, calm and loving, though shy. Shari Bibich, the director of the Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation, said the experience of dealing with the dogs has really made her appreciate the breed.

Barnes said she is slowly getting to know, and gaining the trust, of the dogs that are staying at the Animal Inn in Coupeville. “They each have a different personality,” she said.

Nearly half of the collies have been brought over to Whidbey for shelter. Nine of them are staying at the Animal Inn. WAIF, which runs the island’s animal shelter, is taking care of the rest and trying to find foster homes in the community.

For example, Barnes said Oak Harbor resident Nancy Moffitt, “a 4-H mom,” is fostering six of the dogs.

Yet many more foster homes and more donations are still needed to care for the dogs. Bibich said they especially need more blankets.

Barnes said she is looking for an especially “quiet and serene” home for Shelton. The collie has a very serious heart murmur.

“He’s a heart attack waiting to happen,” she said. Yet he’d make a great pet for someone who has a quiet household and would enjoy the company of a sweet dog who just wants some calm cuddling.

To inquire about fostering, call WAIF at 678-5816. Donations can be sent to WAIF, “Collie Rescue Fund,” PO Box 1108, Coupeville, WA 98239.

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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