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Falling Waters home where 132 dogs were seized is condemned

Two of the dogs taken from the home at 64 Slate Lane have died

June 21, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A home where 132 dogs and 10 cats were found living in deplorable conditions Tuesday has been condemned by the Berkeley County Engineering Department, officials said Thursday.

Two of the dogs taken from the home at 64 Slate Lane in Falling Waters, W.Va., have died, Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster said Thursday.

Some of the animals found in the home were so dehydrated that they were injected with saline solution, Lemaster said. Others were found with skin conditions and underweight, police have said.

No charges have yet been filed, but Lemaster said the case still is under investigation.

Engineering department photographs documenting the home’s condition show feces-covered floors in multiple areas of the home. In one room, framed photographs positioned on a mantle are concealed by cat feces. In another photograph, the kitchen stove and adjoining counter appear heavily soiled.

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County Engineer Kimberly J. Shrader said the home was condemned Tuesday due to “uninhabitable” conditions.

“When you have that many dogs in a house, it’s a health issue,” said Lemaster, who did not know Thursday how long the animals had been in the home.

Berkeley County Animal Control is working with various organizations to provide care and find new homes for the animals.

Lemaster said the dogs seized range in size and breed, and some of the puppies still were nursing. One dog since has had puppies.

Lemaster said the home was visited at least three times in response to calls received about the situation, but indicated the county has limited enforcement power.

Commercial dog breeding legislation passed the state Senate in the regular session of the West Virginia Legislature this year, but died in the House of Delegates.

Lemaster could not say whether the dogs kept at the home were part of a commercial venture, puppy mill or other type of operation.

In announcing the seizure of the dogs Tuesday, police attributed a report that Berkeley County Animal Control received from the Humane Society of United States. The animal protection organization said this week in a news release that a puppy it obtained from the home was in “deplorable condition.”

“He had fleas, matted fur with feces, scabs on his abdomen, was underweight and dehydrated, and suffered from intestinal parasites,” the organization said Wednesday in the release.

The Humane Society of the United States said it received a complaint about sick puppies being sold from the property, which was linked to advertisements on Craigslist, and sent investigators to the property.

The humane society reported a foul odor coming from the home, and noted feces were found on the floor and on 10 to 12 dogs that were loose inside the home, police have said.

Anyone with information may call Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Michael St. Clair at 304-267-7000 or Berkeley County Crime Solvers at 304-267-4999.

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