We talked to one woman who says she was on the Calkins' property a year ago. She saw how thin the animals were and was very concerned. She called the Humane Society.
"I left two messages on their machine saying you should go out to this establishment and check on the animals," says Janice Moser of Merrill.
The Humane Society can't legally go in and investigate, but they can pass on calls like that to the Sheriff's Department, and the sheriff says that they got plenty of calls about the Calkins.
"Even during the summer months we did get phone calls about passersby that were expressing concern about the care and upkeep of animals," says Sheriff Tom Koth.
The Sheriff says they checked out every complaint, but never had enough evidence to take the animals away. Not until Thursday when they found one dog dead, and no food or water in sight, could they rescue the rest of the animals.
"That's exactly the kind of evidence we need to make a criminal prosecution. It has to get to that drastic of a level," says Sheriff Koth.
The sheriff notes that right now Lincoln County doesn't have officers that are certified in recognizing animal neglect. He says without an official humane officer, his officers have to make their own assessments, and if there's enough evidence they call in a vet.
Lincoln County did have a humane officer in the past, but the sheriff says because of tight budgets the county hasn't hired one the last few years.