Lynn DeKrey got interested in saving golden retrievers when she saw a group’s booth at a dog show, but she never thought she would be doing it three months after signing up.

DeKrey, of Steele, was among volunteers who helped take 83 goldens from the Apple Creek Kennel last weekend.

They were removed from longtime breeder Leonard Moos after a routine inspection by the USDA, which licenses dog breeding operations, found violations including dirty and poorly bedded kennels.

Moos handed over the dogs voluntarily and said he was thankful the USDA came.

Nearly all the goldens went to foster homes in Minnesota, because the rescue group, RAGOM, is based there and it aligned with Animal Ark Shelter of Hastings, Minn., to care for the animals.

Seven of the goldens – two adult females and one of the female’s litter of five puppies – stayed in North Dakota with Lynn and Tim DeKrey, who have a boarding and grooming business at their farm and who love and have the golden retriever breed themselves.

The DeKreys will keep the saved goldens for at least another month, or for however long it takes for them to be adopted into proper homes. The puppies are just 3 weeks old.

The goldens were in pretty good physical condition and had decent body weight, though they all needed some veterinary attention for updated shots and immunizations, DeKrey said.

What’s been more difficult is the grown goldens’ behavior toward humans, especially in a breed that’s known for being tolerant and laid back toward people.

DeKrey said the goldens lack socialization skills because they haven’t had much human contact.

She’s named the adult females. One is Nevaeh, “heaven” spelled backward, the mother of the 3-week-old puppies. She named the other younger female “Miracle.”

It’s Miracle, who’s probably not yet 2 and who just had a litter, who makes her feel the most sad, for the way she’s so shy and frightened of human contact. She sits back in the kennel, afraid to come forward and be touched, DeKrey said.

She said dogs can’t be treated like livestock because they have generations of human contact bred into them.

“They’ve been raised for a long time to be companions to people,” she said. “I’m hoping we can rehabilitate them to be tolerant and accept people.”

Nevaeh is beginning to enjoy being touched and petted and will lick DeKrey’s hand, she said.

DeKrey said she’s most concerned with the health of the puppies. Two of them have heart murmurs and another has some laxity in its hips, which could develop into hip dysphasia.

She said dog breeders should monitor the genetics of the dogs to prevent life-threatening and debilitating characteristics from being carried on. Moos was not available to comment on the genetics of his dogs.

She said it’s too soon to know how the heart murmurs will affect the puppies in the long run. Some dogs can’t live with the condition, while medication controls it in other dogs.

After it happened, Moos said he was relieved to have the dogs removed. He said they were in good shape, but his operation was getting down and out and going “pretty fast downhill. I told the USDA I was glad they came.”

DeKrey said she hopes the dogs she’s fostering will be able to remain in North Dakota, partly to demonstrate that people here care about the animals.

Applications will go through RAGOM, which stands for Retrieve A Golden Of Minnesota. The group takes found and surrendered dogs and finds homes for them. People who want dogs have to apply and be interviewed and their home inspected before they can have one.