Dogs' house disgusting, neighbor says

August 22, 2000

Dogs' house disgusting, neighbor says

By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - When Frank Snodgrass goes to court Thursday to face six counts of animal cruelty, some of his former neighbors off Spring Mills Road will have no sympathy for him.

Police said 30 Russian wolfhounds were kept in horrible physical condition, according to allegations in court documents. The dogs were discovered May 17 at 132 Morningside Court in the Spring Mills Common subdivision near Falling Waters, W. Va.

The smell of the feces - some of it piled 3 feet high - and the dog manure scattered around the yard and out in the street have left a lasting impression on neighbor Barbara Rhodes.

"We had to leave home, get rooms in motels," Rhodes said. "We have lost appraised value. Nobody wants to come visit us. I'm taking anti-anxiety medication. We've had the air conditioner on since May 17. They've had the windows open to air the place out and it comes right over here. It's completely destroyed my life."


Three months after the dogs were discovered, an unusual odor drifted across the Morningside Court Tuesday as Marge and Chris Christian talked about how they tried for a year to get any public agency to do something about the situation.

"They all told us they couldn't do anything about what was going on inside the house," Marge Christian said. "We couldn't stand that awful, awful odor. We had an expensive porch put on our back yard so we could sit outside. We couldn't sit out front any more.

"It's very, very disgusting. When the door is open and the wind is blowing you can smell it over here."

"We moved in November and there was dog (feces) all over the yard and you could smell it in January," said Vicky Allen, who lives next to the Christians. "I said, 'if this stuff smells this bad now, what's it going to smell like in the middle of summer?'"

Neither Snodgrass, his wife, an uncle who is helping with the cleanup or Beverly Lord of Fairhope, Ala., co-owner of the house with Terri Snodgrass, could be reached for comment.

Neighbors expressed displeasure with Berkeley County officials, saying they believe they failed to take quick, strong action.

The county condemned the brick structure, which means no one can live in it, said County Administrator Deborah Hammond.

The county also hired a company to clean out the dog feces.

Marge Christian said the crew "looked like something from the movie 'E.T.'" as they worked with white moon suits, masks and gloves during the clean-up.

But the company couldn't do any more until the owners moved out the furnishings, which the county gave them until July 31 to do. Shortly after that, officials were notified by the owners that they would clean up the rest of the house.

Hammond said the owners told them Tuesday they had hired a person to complete the cleanup. The county has billed the owners $1,691 for the work done already, not counting legal fees.

"Once (the clean-up) is done, we'll have the county engineer go out to see if it complies with the injunction" prohibiting anyone living there, Hammond said. "If what they do doesn't satisfy us, we will take whatever action is necessary."

That doesn't mean tearing down the townhouse, she said. The county doesn't own the house and major renovation by the county could have implications on the value, affecting the bank that holds the mortgage.

Marge Christian and Rhodes said they thought it should be gutted and rebuilt. Chris Christian said he'd take a more direct approach. "I'd blow it up," he said.

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