SHADYSIDE — At the request of Belmont County Animal Rescue League, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Tuesday assisted with the rescue of more than 90 neglected mixed-breed dogs from a property in Shadyside.
The ASPCA is supporting the case by providing assistance with operational planning and removal, evidence collection, forensic exams, legal assistance, medical and behavioral care, and relocation to an emergency shelter operated by ASPCA.
Any criminal charges resulting from this case will be handled by the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office, according to ASPCA.
The operation took place on Tuesday.
When investigators arrived on scene, they found the animals living in a single-wide dilapidated trailer. Many were confined to a dark room and had no access to fresh air, food, or water.
The dogs were exposed to dangerous levels of ammonia, and deceased dogs were also found on scene.
Some animals had severe untreated medical conditions, including puncture wounds, scarring and painful eye conditions, and several puppies and dogs needed emergency transport to receive critical care.
“Working alongside law enforcement and animal welfare professionals to assist with cases of cruelty and neglect is a key part of the ASPCA’s work to improve the lives of animals in communities nationwide,” said Teresa Ladner, senior director of investigations for the ASPCA Legal Advocacy & Investigations team.
“When we initially began investigating this case, we quickly realized that a rescue of this size would tax our resources,” said Howard Goldman, director of Operations for BCARL. “We recognized the importance of acting quickly, so we reached out to the ASPCA for assistance who has since played a vital role in this case. We are grateful to have also received cooperation from local law enforcement at the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office, Adult Protective Services, and other Belmont County entities.”
Goldman said BCARL was initially notified about the conditions of the New Cut Road area residence by a call to 911 about one week ago.
ASPCA is taking care of the animals in a separate location.
“There’s nowhere in the county where we could house that many dogs, or provide them the care that the ASPCA can,” he said, adding the organization is assisting with the investigation as well as the medical and behavioral evaluations to determine which are fit for adoption.
“These dogs were living like a feral pack inside a very small room,” Goldman said. “The ASPCA’s in the early stage of getting them examined and providing them with the early basic care that they need.”
He said this may have been a long-standing situation.
“Based on multiple scars that many of the dogs had that were fully healed, and the amount of dogs that are having litters and they look like many of the other dogs, I’m thinking they’ve been in there for multiple generations.”
Goldman is grateful for the assistance.
“This is the first time we’ve received help from the ASPCA,” he said. “They managed to put together a team and get all the resources here in a week’s time. We have worked with other national organizations in the past, but this was very large-scale. Just picture 90 dogs living in a single living room.”
Goldman said this is one of BCARL’s worst cases and the group is working with the prosecutor’s office and the ASPCA legal team to decide if and what charges will be filed.