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Dogs rescued in Sandy Valley finding homes

With help from the dog-loving Las Vegas Golden Knights pro hockey team, 15 of the 164 Pomeranian dogs found crammed in the back of a box truck in Sandy Valley in November were placed with new owners earlier this month.

“We heard about the story, and it was a mutual interest,” said Kim Frank, the Golden Knights’ vice president of marketing. “The guys like animals, and a lot of their wives and families are passionate about dogs. … This was an opportunity to get everyone involved and do something good for the community.”

Hundreds of people participated in Monday’s Pucks for Paws event, which raised about $20,000 for the Animal Foundation, foundation spokeswoman Kelly Leahy said. The event featured a live auction of five dogs and chances to adopt one of 10 additional dogs.

Five Golden Knights players lined up on the ice after the team’s practice Monday at City National Arena, each clutching a Pomeranian to his chest. The dogs, which had been named by the players, wore tiny Golden Knights sweaters.

Zam was the first Pomeranian to be picked, the winning auction participant pledging $1,600 for the mostly white pup with a black head. Brayden McNabb carried Zam off the rink to his new owner as Hat Trick, Goldie, Belley and Georgie were auctioned off for $700 to $1,400 each.

Debbie Hottensen, 40, owner of Tiger Lily florist shops, won a dog named Knighty after spending $1,100 on raffle tickets. She also placed the winning bid of $2,000 on a hockey stick the Golden Knights had autographed.

Hottensen is a big Golden Knights fan. But she said she bid in the “Pick of the Poms” auction and entered the raffle chiefly to support the Animal Foundation, from which she’s adopted two Chihuahuas.

“I know everyone has been going nuts for the Pomeranian dogs nationwide — I’ve heard people have come from other states — I just want to make the point that … there are tons of other dogs like Chihuahuas that need a good home,” Hottensen said, clutching her new hockey stick. “This is a good event, it brings awareness, but please don’t forget about the other dogs.”

Melissa Chiarello, 28, bought $500 in raffle tickets and won Flash, a white and tan Pomeranian puppy who looked more like a stuffed teddy bear than a dog. Flash will be a Christmas present for Chiarello’s boss’ 8-year-old daughter, she said.

Chiarello has followed the story of the rescued Pomeranian puppies since it broke Nov. 30.

“When I first heard, I was physically sick to my stomach,” she said. “The dogs were very lucky that it wasn’t the middle of July, 180 degrees in that truck. They would have lasted hours, if that.

“Thank God it wasn’t that hot, and now they’re going to homes where they are going to be spoiled rotten, just because of what they’ve been through.”

Gerald Gurian, 56, of Las Vegas, sat in the front row at the arena, quietly raising his arm to bid $1,000 for the first three Pomeranian dogs in the auction.

Gurian pulled his wallet out to show off a studio portrait of his fluffy white Pomeranian, Minka, who died in July at 12 years old. He had just begun considering getting a new pet when he heard the news of the rescued dogs.

“I went onto Google to do some searches for little Pomeranian dogs and literally just about a week after I started, I saw the newspaper reported about 164 Pomeranian dogs becoming available,” Gurian said. “Now that is odd, you know, you’re looking for a Pomeranian and suddenly see such vast quantities.”

Although Gurian was one of hundreds of participants who went home empty-handed, he said he was comforted that the dogs were going home to good, loving families.

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