Animal rescue volunteers say they’re starting to take applications for foster homes for the now-174 dogs seized last week from a Wheatland puppy mill.

Animal rescue volunteers say they’re starting to take applications for foster homes for the now-174 dogs seized last week from a Wheatland puppy mill, in what prosecutors characterized Wednesday as life-threatening conditions.

“Had the dogs been left there, whether they would have survived or not, I can’t say,” said Cass County prosecutor Leah Viste at a news conference at Casselton Veterinary Service, which is housing and treating the seized dogs. “The days were hot and getting hotter. They were kept in a single-wide trailer.”

Sheriff’s deputies on July 10 seized 168 dogs from a breeder, Darcy Smith, who had been supplying at least some area pet stores. The dogs are under quarantine at the veterinary office for two weeks.

Viste said Smith, the 51-year-old breeder, has until Friday to file a request to have the dogs returned. A judge would decide custody if he files a challenge.

Smith has said he is considering a move to regain some or all of the dogs, and that he is cooperating with authorities, who are considering filing criminal charges.

People interested in providing a foster home for one of the 174 dogs in temporary custody of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office can contact 4 Luv of Dog Rescue by phone at (701) 205-0190 or at its website, 4luvofdog.org.