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Adoption sought for seized dogs

August 25, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The owner of 94 dogs seized Aug. 4 from a home just outside of Martinsburg failed to appear Tuesday in Berkeley County Magistrate Court for a probable cause hearing, prompting a move to put the dogs up for adoption.

Dog owner Leonard Woods Jr. requested the hearing after the dogs were seized from YipYipDog Kennels LLC at 1206 S. Raleigh St., just outside Martinsburg.

Woods has not been charged in the case, but Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Saunders said Tuesday the matter remains under investigation by the sheriff's department.

In Woods' absence at the hearing Tuesday, Magistrate Joan V. Bragg only had a prepared statement from Animal Control officer E.N. Webber to consider before ruling on whether the state had probable cause to seize the dogs.

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In the typed, one-paragraph statement, Webber said "the dogs showed signs of skin conditions, eye conditions, coughing, wounds and dirty coats."

"The condition of the residence was deplorable. Many of the dogs were sleeping, eating and lying in what appeared to be feces and urine."

Webber also noted in the statement that many of the dogs did not have water, according to court records.

"After being in the house for a very short amount of time, the odor burned your eyes and irritated your throat making it hard to breathe," Webber concluded in a one-paragraph statement.

Webber said after the hearing that about 50 of 85 pit bulls seized from the dog breeding operation would be available for adoption after the agency receives a court order. Saunders said she intended to submit an order for Bragg to sign Wednesday, Saunders said.

Bragg on Aug. 12 ordered Woods to post a $25,490 bond for the animals' care through Sept. 3, but it was not posted as of the hearing, Saunders told the court.

The modular home where the dogs were kept was condemned after authorities responded to complaints from neighbors of unbearable odor, garbage piled on the property and dogs not on leashes.

One of the pit bulls died from giardia, a parasite-triggered illness, since being seized, officials had said.

The dogs have been receiving foster care at more than one location, but a number remaining at county facilities and Webber said the cost of caring for the canines now make adoption a priority.

Woods had said he started the American pit bull terrier breeding business in Akron, Ohio, about five years ago before moving to Martinsburg about two years ago.

In addition to the pit bulls, animal control officers also seized eight French bulldogs and one other dog, Saunders has said.

Anyone interested in adopting the seized pit bulls can contact Animal Control at 304-263-4729, Webber said.

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