Nearly 70 puppies seized from New Maysville area residence
NEW MAYSVILLE -- Authorities seized dozens of puppies from a Jackson Township residence Tuesday.
Acting on a tip from a citizen, the Putnam County Sheriff's Department is investigating the owner of the home, considering possible animal cruelty charges in the case.
Detective Sgt. Pat McFadden told the Banner Graphic the investigation began on Monday when Deputy Mike Downing was dispatched to 6530 E. CR 900 North, which is west of New Maysville.
A person who had gone to the residence to buy a puppy found unsanitary conditions in the house, including an overwhelming smell. Upon leaving the residence, the subject contacted law enforcement.
Downing found the same conditions on his initial investigation, including the smell of dog waste from at least 30 feet away from the house, and piles of feces on the kitchen floor of the home.
Conditions were so bad, in fact, that when Downing returned to the home on Tuesday, he wore a gas mask.
The deputy spoke with the owner of the home, who cooperated to a degree. He also took some photos before returning to the Sheriff's Office and taking his findings to Sgt. McFadden.
The deputy and detective coordinated to put together a search warrant affidavit. The warrant was served on Tuesday afternoon.
McFadden said state statutes on animal cruelty are unclear regarding the unhealthy conditions they found in the house. However, the animals were seized based on the lack of water being provided to dogs housed in the barn behind the house.
A system providing water to the animals in pens through PVC pipes had burst, likely in recent cold weather, and most of the dogs were without water.
Based on the lack of water, the police, working with the a veterinarian from the state Board of Animal Health and For Paws Sake Canine Rescue of Brazil and Terre Haute, seized the animals.
All of animals seized were either Dachshunds or Chihuahuas. The dogs are currently in the care of For Paws Sake.
For Paws Sake representative Sheryl Shaver said 67 dogs were taken into custody at various levels of ill health.
McFadden praised the work of the rescue workers and volunteers, saying he was impressed by their swift, efficient response once the call was made that the animals could be seized.
Shaver credited the DART (Disaster Animal Response Training) training that she and another responder received from the Humane Society of the United States.
She also praised the six people who responded on behalf of For Paws Sake and the additional help they received from a representative of Lucky Pups Rescue.
Shaver said most of the dogs were extremely thin and some could not walk due to overgrown toenails and raw pads from walking on urine and feces.
Additionally, some dogs have growths that appear to be tumors and others are hairless, apparently with mange. However, no veterinarian has yet diagnosed the animals.
The responders also found several dead dogs while serving the warrant.
"From an animal welfare standpoint, it was dire straits," Shaver said. "We had a puppy die in a girl's arms as we were trying to get it out of there."
McFadden is pursuing criminal charges against the unnamed owner, but said the exact charges remain unclear. While the conditions in the house were unclean, it was only on the lack of water that animal cruelty charges can be pursued.
Doug Ehmen of the Putnam County Health Department was also present during Tuesday's search of the residence. Ehmen said once McFadden's report is filed, he will further investigate and potentially take action regarding the living conditions in the home.
Besides animal neglect, the homeowner also faces potential issues regarding animal licensing and breeder licensing.
Once the investigation is complete, McFadden will present his findings to Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter, who will then decide whether or not to file charges.
Having seen the unsanitary conditions and health problems, Shaver said she had no doubt that the owner should face prosecution.
"This was a puppy mill," Shaver said, adding that her greatest fear in the case is that charges will not be filed and the animals will be returned to the owner.
She said that the animals face a lot of steps to recovery, including veterinarian visits, worming, vaccinations, spay and neutering and surgeries for some.
"We desperately need help," Shaver said. "With this many animals saved, it will cost us thousands and thousands of dollars to care for these dogs."
Shaver added that anyone who would like to provide assistance in the effort may contact For Paws Sake Canine Rescue through Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.