Caring airmen help at 'Camp Collie'

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Powell
  • 341st Space Wing Public Affairs
People at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., are sharing humane instincts by helping abused dogs and cats following a horrid discovery Halloween night.

That night on the U.S.-Canadian border, customs agents stopped a 40-foot semi-trailer coming into Montana from Alaska. The smell from the interior was almost overwhelming. Inside, they found 171 dogs and 11 cats stuffed in cages, severely malnourished and diseased. One dog was already dead.

The couple who was transporting the kennel, made up mostly of collies, is now charged with 182 counts of animal cruelty.

Many people in the area are donating food, medicine and materials for the makeshift collie colony at a local fairground, dubbed "Camp Collie." Among the volunteers were five Malmstrom AFB people who travelled the 80 miles to Shelby to help any way they could.

Staff Sgt. Toni Alexander, 341st Security Forces Squadron, who found out about the situation through the Great Falls newspaper, led the volunteer effort for Malmstrom.

"I wanted to help out with a good cause," Alexander said. "I didn't think they would have a lot of people, so it was important to show we care."

That help came in the form of servicemembers walking dogs, changing hay in the horse stalls -- where the dogs are living -- and doing maintenance to the stalls.

"It's absolutely fantastic that we've had support from Malmstrom," said Gina Wiest, Lewis and Clark Humane Society of Helena. "This helps to let people know they can count on Malmstrom to help when need be."

"Right when I heard about the situation, I knew I wanted to help out any way I could," said 2nd Lt. Jeff Ketterling, 341st Communications Squadron. "It's been a lot of work, but it's worth it."

"We have people scheduled to volunteer until the end of November," Alexander said. "But there will need to be more volunteers."

Volunteers will care for the animals while the trial against the owners is pending.

The county said it will cost an estimated $35,000 a month to tend to the dogs. (Courtesy of Air Force Space Command News Service)