Aged flood survivor loses her stock of prize-winning canines for the second time

Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Nancy Punches realizes she was in over her head.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

DRYAD – Authorities seized dozens of foxhounds from a 79-year-old woman who lives in Dryad; animals they said were living in deplorable conditions.

All but a few seemed to be well-fed but their living area was overrun with feces, according to Lewis County code enforcement officials.

Code Enforcement Supervisor Bill Teitzel said he didn’t believe she was selling the dogs.

“I think she essentially is not physically able to care for the dogs and they were breeding among themselves,” he said yesterday.

Authorities rounded up 68 or 69 canines during Friday’s operation on the 400 block of River Road, 20 of them puppies, according to Teitzel. They found one dead pup which will be examined, he said.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Steve Aust said once they get the results of the necropsy, they will evaluate if there is a criminal issue of abuse or neglect.

The foxhounds are descendants of four puppies who – along with their owner Nancy Punches – survived Lewis County’s December 2007 flood while her 16 champion show dogs perished.

Punches endured a nightmarish 36-hour ordeal alone in which she was trapped inside her mobile home as flood waters rose to within inches of her ceiling. She floated upon a tipped-over antique bookcase after placing her five-week-old dogs inside a styrofoam shipping container.

Lewis County Commissioner Bill Schulte who lives in the same community about 14 miles west of Chehalis tipped off enforcement employees there might be a problem. Schulte told Teitzel early last week Punches has been a responsible dog owner for years.

“Her bond (with the dogs) is a little different than before,” Schulte said.

Punches, a longtime breeder of show dogs, has been mostly cooperative.

“I don’t want to blame it on the flood,” Punches said. “But I’m not the same person I was before the flood.”

“I always try to do too much, and it just caught up with me,” she said.

Animal enforcement employees visited Punches’ rural property a week ago and observed feces and sawdust stacked up to eight inches in the outside run area, according to Teitzel. Punches works out of town and they had a hard time catching her at home, he said.

When they returned on Friday morning with a warrant to inspect the premises, it had rained, he said.

“The first thing my staff noticed, that had totally liquified, and the dogs were wading through it,” he said.

Inside the dogs’ central building, waste was mounded to more than a foot, he said, and conditions were severely overcrowded.

They amended their warrant to allow for immediate confiscation of the dogs.

The roundup lasted until long after dark, he said. Assisting with collecting and subsequently housing the canines were animal control employees from Clark County, the city of Chehalis and the Lewis County Animal Shelter. The non-profit animal rescue group Pasado’s Safe Haven in Snohomish County helped as well.

Some went to veterinary clinics with minor leg injuries or possibly urine burned feet, according to Teitzel.

It became a struggle crating up 70-plus-pound foxhounds, he said.

“As we got about two-thirds (of the way) through, some had never been handled,” he said.

Punches, who assisted them during the wrangling, called it bedlam and traumatizing for many of the dogs.

Next-door-neighbor Jim Chown called Punches a sweet lady who has a hard time letting go of things.

“She knows every dog, she knows their names,” Chown said.

Punches spent yesterday with her adult son who traveled from his home in Burien to help his mother.

“I’ knew it was bad,” she said. “I’ve known the past couple of months I was over my head.”

It’s not for lack of trying though, she says.

At 79, she is on her feet all day, working four 10-hour days a week in the lab at Morton General Hospital. Her commute is an hour and a half each way.

That leaves about enough time and energy to feed her dogs, feed herself and sleep until her next shift, she said.

“It’s hard to get good help when it comes to shoveling (kennels),” Punches said.

She said she didn’t intend for the dogs to multiply the way they have, but the fencing between the males and females has deteriorated in places.

She’s spoke with fencing people about replacing it, as soon as she could get the money, she said. She’s talked to contractors about a replacement roof.

“I tried to get a loan, but it’s a double-wide, a used one,” she said of her home that was donated after her first one was destroyed in the flood.

They go through 150 pounds of dog food a day.

Punches has attempted to find homes for some of her dogs, spending her time off last weekend delivering four of them partway to Montana. It’s hard to choose which ones to keep, she said.

She knows for sure she would not willingly give up Noah and his sister Spirit, two of the pups that she kept warm inside her shirt as she wandered hypothermic and disoriented through her former home on Dec. 4, 2007; or Hawk, the grown dog she said had to save himself.

The generosity of strangers afterward was tremendous, she said, with cards and much-welcome and needed donations of money.

Punches chokes up and pauses, saying she doesn’t usually cry.

“People were so nice, I’m afraid when they hear about it …,” she said.

She worries those people will think their kindness then was a mistake, she said.

Her first dog show was in 1956, she said. “I’ve never had a problem like this.”

Changing the topic, she admits she doesn’t know what will happen next.

Amy Hanson from the animal shelter offered her a deal on Saturday, in which she would be willing to return four of the dogs if they are “fixed”, she said, in exchange for signing the rest of the dogs away.

Some of them are championship foxhounds, she said.

“Those dogs are valuable to the breed,” Punches said. “If they’re spayed or neutered, they’re no good to the breed.”

CORRECTION: This news story has been updated to correctly reflect the number of dogs Nancy Punches lost in the December 2007 flood.


The sheriff’s office counted 47 adult dogs and 18 puppies with four of the puppies taken to Cascade West Veterinary Hospital in Centralia for treatment and one dead puppy found in a cage. Two of the animals are fox terriers, the rest foxhounds, according to Code Enforcement Supervisor Bill Teitzel. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office



The dogs’ housing at the property on the 400 block of River Road west of Chehalis. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

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28 Responses to “Aged flood survivor loses her stock of prize-winning canines for the second time”

  1. Jenell Brinson says:

    I am heart sick for Nancy, and learning of this situation. Though I’ve spoken to her by phone briefly several times the past several years, I had no idea she has gotten over her head so like this. She’ a remarkable woman, I’ve known her nearly 40 years, many of her first Foxhounds actually came from me here in Texas) back in the 80′ and early 90’s, and some lost in the horrible flood had been my dogs . due to my own advancing age and declining health, I have not been active with the foxhounds in some years now myself. I had not visited her home in Lewis co, after she moved there from Snohomish co a few years ago. But she was devoted to her dogs, and the foxhound breed…those crticizing her breeding them do not realize it is a rare breed now, with a tiny handful of dedicated breeders trying to keep this breed genetically viable, from extinction. It is not a popular marketable breed, she was certainly not breeding them to sell to make money. Nancy is a most loving and gentle woman, even if over her head with too many dogs, if things had gotten out of hand, still, I KNOW SHE HA LOVED THESE DOGS AND TREATS EVERY ONE AS AN INDIVIDUAL! And the HORROR she went through in the 2006 flood, nearly dying, and loosing all her dogs and other pets, was a horrible ordeal for her! I am stunned and furious at shelters and others commenting they were just kennel dogs and never had any love, that simply is not true! I know Nancy better than that! I am heartbroken for her, as well as these sweet dogs, that didn’t deserve to be terroritzed, run down, grabbed, snared, dragged off, as they were, by strangers! Foxhounds are very timid, sensitive, gentle dogs!

  2. Huh? says:

    I am honored. How about invisible ink with milk? 🙂

  3. MorningCoffee says:

    If I have to be tagged as a gang member, couldn’t think of any better than to be one of a Gang of Cows who have heart and common sense. (But then I’m sure someone will point out the less attractive aspects of an actual cow and its abilities to think or, … whatever… hit me… I can take the criticism) -signed, MorningCow

  4. sunshinegirl says:

    Hey , Huh and Morning Coffee , Did ya know we were a gang ? I keep forgetting the Idiots hate being called stupid or is that the other way around ? Hmm , I can not for the life of me remember. Guess its age .It is nice to be in such good company as you two though , makes me feel young again. We will have to get a secret handshake or code or something just like 4th grade!! All kidding aside and in spite of the the annoyance we have to deal with , once again I am proud to be from Lewis Co. and I am proud of people like Jennifer , I checked out your website last night . Good job kiddo. The last time Nancy was in need my best friend who has since moved away to Montana worked at the same hospital as Nancy and her and her kids went to Nancys home that was totally destroyed to clean up and recover the drowned animals while Nancy was in the hospital recovering and my friend cried when she showed me the pictures of the devastation Nancy endured and the horror of her ordeal. Huh , you or so right it is terrible when people go through so much and it does not seem fair but that is why we pull together as friends and neighbors to help. So cows though we made be I am glad to be part of this gang !!!

  5. Flood Survivor. That’s funny, next to the Centralia City Hall sand bags are still laying there from over 4 years ago. The Ultimate in Tax Fraud. If I remember right the city was claiming all the water was contaminated with fecal matter. So basicly Bags of shit are still laying on the streets of Centralia. Oh and don’t forget Kentucky Fried Chicken on Main St. Their sand bags are still laying in the back also. I guees they do sand bags right…..

  6. Falsetto says:

    It’s kind of weird that Huh and here gang of bullies just LOVE to pick on people and inflame the conversation with accustions. You guys just LOVE to attack people calling them “idiots” and “stupid”. The thing is, I don’t see a bunch of trolls calling you guys “ugly” “fat” “stupid” “cows”. So why do you guys feel the need to attack other bloggers with name-calling all the time?

    You people should be accepting of people with different points of view instead of constantly flaming other users for dumb stuff.

    Just because you love to be cruel to animals by letting them wander the streets or by keeping them in tiny kennels to breed and be sold, doesn’t mean everybody else has to love it.

  7. Falsetto says:

    “I just wish that you wouldn’t spew your hate here.”

    You just can’t stand that there is someone here who hates police corruption and animal abuse! I have never said ANYTHING hateful or disparaging towards ANYONE. If you THINK i’m talking about you without using your name, then you must think the world revolves around YOU. Well, it doesn’t.

    And my hatred for mistreatment of poor people by the county will NEVER END until they treat poor people and animals with the respect they deserve.

    You sitting there spouting your hatred from me doesn’t do any good either. So why don’t you stop spewing your hate for a change? Not everybody can take care of his/her neighbor or family during these tough times. Attacking me for pointing that out is really low, but common for people from your area where education is laughed at and corruption is acceptable.

  8. MorningCoffee says:

    @Huh – THANK YOU for the rays of sunshine you just shared. So refreshing and uplifts the spirits.

  9. Huh? says:

    @Falsetto – I am glad that you have the right to voice your opinion, I just wish that you wouldn’t spew your hate here.

    Thank you Jennifer for the link.

    @Saysme, good question about the ballot. Maybe just bad timing, maybe not.

    It seems that people in this county have the misfortune of getting double-punched. (sorry, no pun for Ms. Punches!) Ms. Punches losing her house to the flood, then her dogs to the aftermath. That family in Onalaska that lost a son and grandson, then the house burned down. However, I have seen the new home on Ony, and am proud of how people stepped up to help. Also the dog breeders that lost their barn and dogs in a fire – how the community rallied for them. How people rallied for a tombstone for that baby girl that was killed. How people showed up at the proper burial for those Unnamed at the coroner’s office. I look forward to seeing how our community comes through for Ms. Punches.

  10. jennifer says:

    The community has come together to help Ms. Punches. Please see the website

    We will up date it a we learn of her exact needs. Thanks to everyone who is being supportive of her.

  11. heart broken says:

    I do not Nancy but I am sure she is hurting inside and I bet she has a beautiful smile when she smiles. To me she seems like a very kind and loving woman who loves dogs and i am sure people too if they would just take the time..Its what is on the the inside that matters..Words are only words although they can hurt..I agree try to walk in Nancy’s shoes. I also am on Nancy’s side100% God be with her always..Thank You Nancy for opening my eyes.

  12. Falsetto says:

    “It is NOT the county or any other government’s job to take care of us.”

    Yes it is. If the government doesn’t take care of THE PEOPLE, then why do they bother to have a MILITARY????

    “Everybody wants something for nothing.”

    That’s more corporate b.s.!!! The only thing anybody wants is REPRESENTATION for the TAXES they PAY!!! They ONLY people who want SOMETHING FOR NOTHING are the corporations who pay ZERO TAXES. Try to remember that fact.

    “More government is not the answer.”

    Well neigher is NO GOVERNMENT.

    “Families help families. Neighbors help neighbors.”

    And when your family and neighbors are too busy taking care of themselves and can’t carry your weight, then what? The CHURCH??? Give me a f’n break.

    “If you want government to take care of everyone, it’s because you don’t want to do your part in within the framework of humanity.”

    The only thing I want MY GOVERNMENT to do is TAKE CARE OF AMERICANS!!! Quit giving handouts to Arabs and quit spending tax money that could be better spent protecting animals and EDUCATING the citizens of Lewis County.

  13. Larkin Vonalt says:

    I’ve known Nancy for years, I have one of her dogs, a Champion American Foxhound. I helped raise funds for Nancy after the flood– and she was hospitalized for weeks afterwards. One adult dog and the four puppies survived, and that was it. She does work incredibly hard– but things got away from her. So now what’s going to happen? It will be terribly difficult to find homes for that many Foxhounds. Though they are a wonderful breed, they are not the easiest pets. Years and years of careful breeding and the preservation of old lines down the drain. Poor Nancy. Poor dogs.

  14. kathryn baxter says:

    I know Nancy. She is a good person and she and her puppies did survive a huge flood several years ago. Don’t judge her until you walk a few miles in her moccasins. I’m in her corner 100%.

  15. MorningCoffee says:

    sunshinegirl – “gettin old is a bitch and pride keeps us from asking for help sometimes . Especially if we have always been strong and independent.” – bingo. and…. “its probably the red hair . Yeah lets blame it on that.” – love it! You made me smile. 😉

  16. MorningCoffee says:

    Heartbroken and Saysme – thank you for your kind words.

  17. MorningCoffee says:

    Falsetto and DCE – It is NOT the county or any other government’s job to take care of us. Everybody wants something for nothing. More government is not the answer. Families help families. Neighbors help neighbors. If you want government to take care of everyone, it’s because you don’t want to do your part in within the framework of humanity.

    Furthermore, Lewis County has not one large city within it’s borders. If you want MORE GOVERNMENT and large city perks, go to a large city and enjoy the multitudes of constraints put upon you there…. see what it’s really like to “fight city hall.”

    “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country.”

  18. Falsetto says:

    You know, I’m sick and tired of the county and its “officials” always coming up with excuses for their HORRENDOUS behavior when it comes to animals and the poor residents!

    A person can only put up with lame excuses like, “The county doesn’t have the funds” or “We all make mistakes”. That’s B.S.!!!!

    What does the county do when one of its citizens f’s up and ends up in court for some minor crap? Answer: they either get fined or go to jail. PERIOD. And what happens if the defendant pleads for leniency because they can’t pay the fine? The county says, “Tough sh*t! Go out and find it. If you can’t, then you go to jail!”

    When are the citizens in Lewis County going to hold their government leaders to the same standard? When are the citizens going to get fed up with lame excuses and demand change? Probably not before a lot more animals and poor people have to suffer.

    Such a shame.

  19. heart broken says:

    coffee you sound like a very nice person who has a good heart…You are a very special person. And I agree with you.

  20. heart broken says:

    When was the last time any of you to and said hello to a poor person. Or even cried.Better yet tried to help them??? Or was you afraid someone might see you..Its so much easier to snubb them or call them names right???? Did you ever think that may be you someday or your family or friend how sad it breaks my heart.Do something nice for the poor people in children in our towns while you are eating a nice hot dinner they are proble trying to keep warm with a blanket you thought was ugly or not good enough for you becuase it had a hole in it..BREAK A BEAD(TEAR OTHER WISE)we all have feelings…..OR DO YOU…

  21. heart broken says:

    I feel really sad for her she tried so hard to do her best. Maybe someone some where could help her(you know like the people who build homes and could make her a nice kennel.) She has been thru alot and my heart goes out to her. Judge NOT this could happen to anyone….Instead of condeming her maybe people should try to HELP her.UNITED WE STAND or have we fallen so far apart..

  22. Falsetto says:

    I don’t blame the woman who can’t take care of herself or an animal. I blame the b.s. attitude of the county in allowing it to happen in the first place AND the idiots who defend such actions.

    OBVIOUSLY there is a problem and the answer is not in attacking me, calling me names, and telling me to “just shut up”. That solves absolutely NOTHING.

    By saying that the old lady can’t take care of herself and all the hardships she’s had to endure pulls at the heartstrings, but this situation should NEVER have been able to develop in the first place.

    She’s human, I get that. But where’s the humanity concerning animals and poor people when it comes to the county? Such a nice place but such crappy government oversight. Such a shame.

  23. sunshinegirl says:

    I have been reading Falsettos crap for awhile and I really have to comment. You should shut up and you should not comment on things you do not know a thing about. Nancy Punchs is 79 years old and still works full time and the ordeal she survived was such you can not even imagine . You were not there and you should not offer your stupid opinions . This women went through one of the most horrendous ordeals I have ever seen and she barely survived , No body has put a Romantic spin on this story , you are just weird. She knows she has a problem . This women would never deliberatly hurt an animal . She has fully accepted the blame for her actions and Coffee you are so right , gettin old is a bitch and pride keeps us from asking for help sometimes . Especially if we have always been strong and independent . The poeple that call and complain or the idiots like Falsetto who make stupid comments never ever think maybe a helping hand might be welcome. Life can be overwhelming. At 79 it can be more so. Sorry for the rant but I can only suffer the fools for so long , its probably the red hair . Yeah lets blame it on that.

  24. Falsetto says:

    “Flood Survivor”?? LMFAO!!! You make it sound like she’s freaking Moses leading the Israelites to freedom.

    Putting a romantic spin on animal cruelty is disgusting. This woman should not have been allowed more than 1 pet at a time. Same goes for everyone in Lewis County who tries to make a living breeding dogs…they should be limited in the number of dogs to 5 at the most.

  25. saysme says:

    morning coffee, you couldn’t of said it better. Thank you, and people out there that know this woman please help her..

  26. saysme says:

    this woman had her life turned upside down, almost losing her life, losing her home, losing her beloved dogs. Some people can deal with loss like that better than others. I know from personal experience. It is not an easy road to recovery. I hope that Nancy avails herself of counseling and can move forward. I wonder why Lewis County Comissioner waited so long to notifiy the proper authorties. Could it be his name is on the ballet, and this is good points for him.. The timing is in question.. same time as the ballets came out in the mail..

  27. MorningCoffee says:

    My heart goes out to Ms. Punches. I know of growing old, living alone and the struggles of maintaining. Clearly she could have prevented this dilemma by having a few of her most cherished companions fixed. Folks, living alone and isolated does something to the soul. Even though she works, the loneliness persists. Only someone who has experienced the pain of the aged and lonely can truly understand this.

    Visit more often. Get involved. Don’t be so involved in your own world that you cannot strive toward the quality of life of a parent. And if that means you have fork up so dough to care for your aging parent, JUST DO IT. Your success is very likely to be a direct result of the love and caring you received.

    Teach your children to love and honor their grandparent. Our society has become such a “ME” environment, it breaks my heart. And if you have a lonely parent or grandparent, believe me when I say they too have a broken heart.

    There is no excuse whatsoever, to be so busy in life that our elders should ever feel alone.

  28. Silent Night says:

    It’s obvious that this woman was overwhelmed with animals. Why was no one trying to help her if people knew about it? I hope she does get a few of them back and that they have to be fixed in order to get them back. Sounds like there are still plenty to be bred by someone who can take better care of them. That is as long as all the confiscated animals don’t have to be fixed before adoption. It sounds like a case of neglect. And overbreeding. But good intentions of trying to properly care for the animals and, having no help it just got bad! Hopefully this will be the first in many cases of neglect and overbreeding that will be taken care of in this county. I feel sorry for this woman, but it sounds like things got pretty bad and I have more empathy for the poor dogs that had to live like this!!! 🙁

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