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Durham deputy, rescued dog reunite permanently

Posted February 26

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— Seven months after a Malamute named Marty was seized during an animal cruelty investigation in Durham, he was permanently reunited Friday with the deputy who helped rescue him.

Deputy Dakota Beck responded on July 21 to a complaint about two dogs running loose on Sybil Drive and noticed a strong smell of urine and feces coming from a nearby home. Beck heard barking inside the house and saw dogs with matted fur in pens in the backyard. Beck obtained a search warrant and found 31 dogs on the property, including Marty, a malnourished Malamute.

The homeowner, 53-year-old Sandra Dee Lehto, was charged with 28 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals in the case.

The Southwest Michigan Husky Club, an animal rescue group based in Athens, Mich., nursed Marty back to health and planned Friday to make the 12-hour trip back to Durham so Marty can reunite with Beck, who is adopting the dog.


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  • Anne Havisham Feb 26, 2016
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    The picture of Marty before he was transported to Michigan is more horrifying than I'd thought. Animal rescuers are remarkable people!

    (And most animal hoarders are sick, not bad. Regardless of the cause of the sicknesses and injuries these dogs withstood, I hope Ms. Lehto is doing better now.)

  • Anne Havisham Feb 26, 2016
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    Well done, Deputy Beck. Both Jewish and Muslim scriptures say that a person who saves one life* should be considered as one who saves the entire world.

    *And I would wager this is not the first life Deputy Beck has saved.

  • Sonja Yagel Feb 26, 2016
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    I enjoy reading stories like this. It proves sometimes good things happen amist all the bad and depressing stories.

  • Chance Loria Feb 26, 2016
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    What a beautiful dog ... And great story!!!