Nearly all of the 51 dogs living in squalid conditions and removed from a Belpre residence last week have found foster homes as they await adoption.
There are only 16 dogs left in residence at the Washington County Fairgrounds, where the dogs were taken after the execution of a search warrant on Friday, with the rest having found temporary homes.
"As always, when we have these kind of issues come up, the community is very giving and has helped us in every way possible," said Steve Herron, manager of the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley.
Dogs taken from Belpre home are finding foster homes
The dogs were seized from the property of Richard and Carol Lancaster, 802 Way Road, Belpre, after the sheriff's office received complaints from neighbors.
No charges will be filed against the Lancasters, as there was no malicious intent and to keep the dogs confined as evidence would have been detrimental to their welfare, said Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Kelly Schubert, the county dog warden.
The lack of charges allows the animals to be fostered and put up for adoption immediately.
Marietta resident Kathy Wilhelm walks Fred, one of 51 dogs seized at a Belpre residence last week, at the Washington County Fairgrounds Tuesday. Fred was scheduled to be adopted Tuesday.
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"If we have 51 dogs to house for a year, it's not fair to them and it would be detrimental to them," said Schubert.
In the agreement not to file charges, Richard Lancaster, 63, agreed not to own more than three dogs and that all dogs he owned would be spayed or neutered, Schubert said.
All dogs seized during the warrant, which included about nine puppies, will be spayed or neutered. Along with other medical expenses such as worming and vaccinations, the humane society is expected to have $3,000 to $5,000 in medical care, Herron said.
How to help
- Donations of food, blankets, cleaning supplies like Clorox bleach, towels and disinfectants can be brought to the Washington County Fairgrounds where the dogs are being housed or to the Marietta shelter of the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley.
- Monetary donations can be brought to the Washington County Sheriff's Office or the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley.
- The dogs remaining at the fairgrounds are being quarantined, so residents are not encouraged to come to walk and play with them.
"It is a huge strain and expense on us at the humane society," Schubert said.
One dog seized in the search has died, after testing positive for the parvovirus and another dog has exhibited symptoms of the disease and all dogs at the fairgrounds are now being treated.
Parvovirus infects the intestinal tract, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Left untreated, it is fatal 90 percent of the time and treated kills a dog about 50 percent of the time, according to officials with Colonial Animal Hospital in Belpre.
The disease spreads through contact with an infected dog's saliva or feces, so Schubert and humane society volunteers have isolated and are treating the dog exhibiting symptoms of parvovirus. All dogs at the fairgrounds are being quarantined while being treated for the virus, even if they have not exhibited symptoms.
The virus cannot be spread to humans.
The other dogs seized appear to be healthy and are residing in foster homes, which reduces the cost to the humane society.
One dog, Fred, who is blind in one eye, has already found his new family, as he was expected to be adopted Tuesday.
After the seizure of the dogs, they were moved to the fairgrounds so it could be determined whether there are additional health risks before moving the animals to the shelter.
"Even though we vaccinate and worm, just because you do that there's always the possibility that that disease can spread. We took every precaution we could," Herron said.
Only three dogs and some puppies seized during the search are residing at the humane society.
Nearly all of the dogs have exhibited some form of parasite infection as a result of the living conditions, but are not in poor overall health. They were well fed and had water, but were drinking from mud puddles where they ingested the parasites.
"A lot of their health problems were internal, that you can't see just by looking at them, like hooks and whip worm," Schubert said.
Donations of supplies such as food, Clorox bleach and other cleaning materials are welcomed.