Authorities rescued 83 dogs from three properties belonging to a Spanish Fork breeder last week, according to a news release from the Utah County’s Sheriff’s Office. On May 11, a 38-year-old woman was charged in justice court with 10 counts of animal cruelty, class B misdemeanors.
The investigation began on March 31, when an animal control deputy responded to a Spanish Fork home on a report of malnourished dogs who were “covered with feces.” While talking to one of the homeowners, the woman told him she ran a breeding operation.
During the conversation, the deputy noticed two small puppies lying in feces in a kennel, which were both “listless” and appeared to be in distress. The homeowner allegedly told the deputy that the puppies were being treated by a veterinarian in Provo, which he later learned to be false.
Suspected operation spanned 3 properties
The deputy returned to the River Bottoms area after learning about another report about the location, and observed several dogs in small outdoor kennels with no water or food. The dogs appeared to be malnourished, and he could smell feces coming from a nearby shed where dogs were also kept, according to the release.
The deputy learned that the homeowners held other properties in Orem and Provo, which housed more dogs that were also kept in “less than desirable conditions.” Although the homeowner had a business license for the Orem location, it was designated as office space — and she did not have any kennel permit at any of the three locations, the release states.
The deputy was unable to reach the homeowner on further attempts, so he posted a notice at the home in Spanish Fork requiring the puppies to be checked by a veterinarian within two weeks.
During the investigation, the deputy learned that the woman’s husband was wanted by the FBI on suspicion of fraud, according to court documents. The man was arrested without incident at the couple’s Orem home on April 13.
Authorities then conducted a search warrant at the couple’s Provo, Spanish Fork and Orem properties on April 14.
Dogs had no apparent access to food, water
Multiple agencies seized two dogs at the Orem home, 26 dogs at the Provo home and 55 dogs at the Spanish Fork home. Officials reported many of the dogs had no regular access to water, and when they were given water, they “drank voraciously” and immediately got sick.
They also appeared to have no regular access to food, the news release states, and most — if not all — of the kennels had not been cleaned for an extended period. Some kennels were raised in an apparent effort to allow space for feces to fall through to the ground, and in many of the kennels, the space was “filled up to and over the bottom of the grated platforms.”
This created a muddy mixture of urine and feces, and most of the dogs had nowhere clean to go when they would lie down. Many of the animals had crusted excrement on their coats.
“Many of those involved in the operation described the conditions as deplorable,” the release states. “As the dogs were catalogued and photographed, most of them seemed thrilled to have the attention and they tried climbing on those holding them.”
‘Our hope that the dogs will be able to be adopted out’
The dogs were taken to the North and South Utah Valley Animal Shelters, where they were bathed and vaccinated. Four of these dogs tested positive for Giardia, a parasite that is spread through contact with contaminated feces or soil, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
All of the dogs were then treated for the parasite. Several others have serious eye infections.
“It will be no surprise that shelter staff are nearly overwhelmed with the effort it is taking to care for these dogs each day,” officials said in the release. “As for the disposition of the dogs, it is our hope that the dogs will be able to be adopted out. But for the time being that has not been determined.”
The investigation into the case is ongoing. Authorities expect there will be be separate charges related to the apparent violations in Orem, Provo and Spanish Fork.
If an individual needs to report cases of animal abuse or neglect, they may contact local animal control services or law enforcement, according to the Utah Humane Society.