MISSOULA - It all started with an anonymous letter alerting the Missoula County Animal Shelter of possible animal neglect.
Now, 41 dogs have been rescued from what can only be described as, "very poor conditions."
While not all of the dogs survived, the Missoula City-County Animal Control has already adopted or transferred more than half of the rescued dogs.
In December, Missoula Animal Control, rescued 9 dogs from a 5th wheel trailer and described a gruesome scene with "dogs caked in dried urine and feces" and the "floor of the trailer covered in a one foot deep layer of feces" Then last week they found more dogs.
An additional 32 dogs were later found in a separate location according, Missoula Animal Control Supervisor Jeff Darrah.
All of the dogs were checked over by a vet, some in better condition than others, but after getting shaved and given a bath most were ready for adoption.
Sandy Thornton rushed to the shelter when she first heard about the situation and remembers seeing the dogs for the first time.
"There were 12 of them in a kennel and they were just trembling, they were they looked absolutely terrified, it was heart breaking absolutely heartbreaking," Thornton said.
After seeing that she knew she needed more than one.
While Darrah is glad the dogs are now finding better homes, it's still disturbing to him to know these dogs were treated.
"This type of behavior had gone on for a while and this [investigation] started with someone sending us a letter anonymously," Darrah said.
But saving all the dogs comes with a hefty price tag; the vet bill is more than $15,000, so the non-profit component of the shelter is seeking donations to help cover the cost. They're also in need of puppy pads and soft dog food.
The dogs' previous owner has been charged with nine counts of animal cruelty.
We reached out to the Missoula County Attorney’s Office to see if additional charges are pending, but Deputy County Attorney Mac Bloom said the office can't comment at this time.