Breeder who surrendered dogs was rescued during 2007 floods

NEAR DOTY, Wash. -- The woman who surrendered her 65 dogs to authorities on Friday had to be rescued herself five years ago.

When Nancy Punches was trapped in her house by the flooded Chehalis River in 2007, she managed to save four of her foxhound puppies.

Those puppies have led to a total of 65 dogs, all of whom Punches surrendered to authorities on Friday.

Animal rescue teams said the dogs were found in deplorable conditions, living alongside mounds of their own waste. They said they had no choice but to seize the 45 dogs and 20 puppies.

"It was pretty bad out there, and for an animal to be living in that kind of condition is not something that's acceptable," said Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield.

Back in 2007 when Punches was rescued, she told KOMO News rising floodwaters prevented her from saving 16 of her adult foxhounds. But she managed to grab four of their puppies as floodwaters rose to within 10 inches of her ceiling, and they floated on a bookcase until they were rescued the next day.

"I was determined to save those puppies, those babies, because I know that my other dogs had drowned," she said.

A new home was donated, and Punches said her breeding operation started all over again with those four puppies. But the sheriff said somewhere along the way, it became too much for her to handle.

The dog breeding went unchecked and grew to 65 dogs with the 78-year-old breeder unable to maintain clean living conditions for them.

"She loved her animals. She cared about them. But for whatever reasons, things got out of control and beyond her ability to care for them," said the sheriff.

Rescuers found one of the puppies dead in a cage on Friday, and three of the seized puppies died over the weekend. Many of the dogs have parvovirus, according to authorities.

The sheriff said he will likely recommend that charges be filed against Punches.