Authorities seized roughly 90 dogs and puppies from “horrible conditions” at an Ohio animal rescue where at least 30 dead dogs were found packed into freezers and refrigerators, according to the local sheriff.
Dog Wardens and sheriff’s deputies in Butler County, Ohio, made the gruesome discovery last week while investigating a known “hoarding case” at Helping Hands for Furry Paws animal rescue in Madison Township, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) said on July 28.
Ronda Murphy, the owner and operator of the rescue, faces dozens of charges of neglect and cruelty to companion animals, BCSO Sheriff Richard K. Jones said Friday in an online statement shared on Facebook. Those charges include both felony and misdemeanor counts, Middletown Municipal Court records show. Details on Murphy’s arraignment were not listed online at the time of publication. It was also unclear whether Murphy had retained an attorney as of Sunday evening.
The surviving but malnourished dogs and puppies were sent to Animal Friends Humane Society (AFHS) in Hamilton, Ohio, where they’re receiving medical care and “love and compassion” from staff.
Dog wardens discovered at least 30 dead dogs and more than 90 living dogs in “the most horrible conditions they have ever seen” at Helping Hands for Furry Paws animal rescue in Ohio, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office said.
Newsweek reached out via email and Facebook on Sunday to the BCSO and Animal Friends Humane Society for comment. Newsweek also reached out to Helping Hands for Furry Paws on the Ohio rescue’s website. A phone number was not listed.
The investigation into Helping Hands for Furry Paws revealed that both adult dogs and puppies were being housed in various structures on two separate Madison Township properties, Jones said. Butler County Dog Wardens and BSCO deputies conducted searches of the properties and found the canines living in “the most horrible conditions they have ever seen,” according to Jones.
Investigators found the remains of roughly 30 deceased canines in five different refrigerators and freezers, some of which were not functional. The dead canines, which included dogs and puppies, were discovered in “varying states of decomposition,” the sheriff said.
Dozens of living canines were discovered on the two properties as well, with many requiring medical care for health issues.
More than 25 dogs were found in cages inside a garage that had no ventilation or air conditioning and an indoor temperature of 89 degrees, Jones said in the statement.
“Numerous animals were housed together in cages filled with urine, fecal matter, and no food or water,” he said. “One cage contained a mother and eight newborn puppies.”
Eleven dogs lived inside the main house, with several of the pooches caged together.
Deputy Dog Wardens described the house as “unlivable,” Jones said. Adding that the odor inside the home was “strong enough to burn their eyes and take away their breath.”
“Conditions were so horrendous that Deputy Dog Wardens had to leave the structure numerous times to catch their breath,” the sheriff said in the statement.
Animal Friends Humane Society took in all the seized dogs and puppies, according to a statement on Facebook.
The Hamilton-based shelter said staff received word Thursday morning from Butler County Dog Wardens that they had cruelty charges to file against a local woman and would be seizing her animals.
“She was a known dog hoarder and what they found was unimaginable,” the shelter staff said in the post, adding that they are unable to release many details but can confirm the wardens seized more than 70 dogs.
“OVER 70 DOGS,” AFHS said in the post. “The dogs all range in sizes and ages. There’s even nursing mothers. All those dogs were brought to our facility. That is on top of the 110 dogs already entrusted in our care.”
The shelter’s staff and volunteers are “working tirelessly” to feed, water, cage, vet, and “show all these new dogs love and compassion.”
Animal Friends Humane Society urged the community to help, saying they desperately need fosters, people to adopt and donations.
None of the dogs or puppies are up for adoption at this time, the shelter said, noting that the animals from the “hoarding case” must be held through the owner’s trial or until dogs’ custody is signed over to AFHS, the shelter said on Facebook.
“We are looking for rescues or fosters to house the dogs through their custody hold,” AFHS said.
The animal shelter said it is also seeking monetary donations as well as items from its Amazon “wish list.”
“Many of the hoarding dogs we took in are suffering from medical issues,” the shelter said in the statement. “The medical bills will all add up quickly. In addition to the medical bills, the daily care and feeding for 70+ dogs is an added strain to our resources.”