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94 dogs seized from Berkeley County home

August 05, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Berkeley County Animal Control officers seized 94 dogs, most of them pit bulls, from a home just outside Martinsburg on Wednesday, following complaints from neighbors, Berkeley County Sheriff's Capt. D. Scott Richmond said Thursday.

Conditions at YipYipDog Kennels LLC at 1206 S. Raleigh St. were "deplorable," Richmond said.

Neighbors petitioned the county to remove the dogs, complaining of unbearable odor, garbage piled on the property and dogs not on leashes, he said.

"The health department actually came out and condemned the residence," Richmond said.

The health of the dogs ranged from "not so bad" to "not so good," he said.

The dogs were being cared for at more than one location, and Richmond said Animal Control was looking for people qualified to provide temporary care for the animals.

The investigation was ongoing, Richmond said.

Owner Leonard Woods Jr. defended the American pit bull terrier breeding business that he and his wife, Pamela, started in Akron, Ohio, about five years ago. They relocated to a modular home on the southern end of Martinsburg almost two years ago and Woods said he organized the limited liability corporation in West Virginia in July 2009, according to the Secretary of State's office.

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"Physically, they're all big, perfect, healthy, fat, well-dispositioned dogs," Woods said. "They're all friendly to people."

Woods said he had a lot more dogs than he was planning to have, in part because he had to take back some dogs from an individual he sold to who wasn't treating the animals right. With so many dogs, including several litters of puppies, Woods said that he and a helper were continuously cleaning the home, which is where the couple also lives.

"By the time you get done, it's time to start over again," Woods said. "So any time you can come in here, you could go look in the kennel and (say) 'Hey, that needs cleaned up, you're being a poor owner.'"

Woods said his customers would attest to the quality of his dogs, including their temperament and manner.

"They said the house smelled, which it does first thing in the morning, until you air it out and start cleaning," Woods said.

Woods said he hauls his own garbage to the dump.

Woods acknowledged that some of his dogs were allowed outside without leashes, but insisted they didn't leave his property, which was suggested in a petition signed by 31 people and filed with the Berkeley County Commission on July 27.

The petition asked the county to remove the kennel, condemn the home and restore "health, safety, and peace and quiet of the neighborhood."

Woods said the health department cited the condition of the front porch and also noted there was concern about some water damage.

"It's not the best porch, but it's not unsafe," Woods said.

After reviewing the petition, Woods acknowledged that his dogs bark a lot when they are playing, but noted that they are inside the house by 10 p.m., in accordance with regulations.

"These are my kids, they're allowed to play," Woods said, comparing them to children screaming while playing out in the yard at other residents' homes.

Woods also dismissed the petition's claim that his business customers "come and go all the time," when he said he only sees about two customers a week.

When asked why he moved the business to a residential area, Woods said the property was marketed as more rural than it actually is and they had little choice but to move forward with establishing the business there.

"I live, eat and sleep dog, you know. That's the way I am," Woods said.

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