Authorities rescued 90 living dogs and found at least 30 more dead last week at two properties in southwestern Ohio, where a woman was purportedly operating an animal rescue called Helping Hands for Furry Paws, authorties said.
Rhonda Murphy, who owned and operated the rescue, is charged with neglect and cruelty to companion animals, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Friday. Murphy is accused of housing adult canines and puppies in conditions that dog wardens from the sheriff’s office described as “unlivable” after searching the two properties in Madison Township, which is about 40 miles outside of Cincinnati.
Investigators discovered numerous adult dogs and puppies kept together in cages filled with urine and fecal matter and without food or water, the sheriff said. More than 25 dogs were found caged in one garage that did not have ventilation or air conditioning, and where authorities measured indoors temperatures of 89 degrees. One cage housed an adult dog and eight newborn puppies.
Eleven adult dogs were found inside a main house, with some caged together. Deputy dog wardens that searched the house reported a pungent odor that burned their eyes and required them to step outside periodically for air, according to the sheriff. They called the environment “the most horrible conditions they have ever seen.”
In addition to the animals that could be saved, authorities found the remains of deceased adult dogs and puppies in five different refrigerators and freezers across both properties, and some were not working. They found other dead canines in varying states of decomposition, the sheriff said.
The sheriff’s office shared several images taken at the properties to its Facebook page, which show visible grime and overcrowding in the garage as well as the main home. In one image, at least six dogs can be seen in two rusted cages, situated side-by-side with a number of cages housing dogs and among towering piles of cardboard boxes, shelving and other household items. Another dog’s ribs are seen clearly in another close-up image.