Updated: 02/10/2014 2:48 AM
Created: 02/10/2014 12:41 AM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch
DURHAM – Authorities removed 39 dogs and one cat from "appalling" conditions inside two rural homes this weekend, the Columbia-Greene Humane Society and SPCA reported Sunday.
The odor of urine and feces was so overpowering inside 596 Morrison Rd. that SPCA employees felt their eyes burning after just a few minutes inside, Chief Investigator Lee DeLisle said.
When investigators opened the front door at 221 Hervey Sunside Rd., the pungent smell drifted to the street, where reporters and photographers were documenting the removal of the animals.
The SPCA seized 32 adult German Shepherds, seven German Shepherd puppies, and one cat, DeLisle said. There were no deceased animals on the premises, and no animals remain.
Several of the dogs appeared to be thin, while others appeared to be a healthy weight, DeLisle said. A veterinarian will examine all of the animals.
An anonymous tipster alerted the Greene County Sheriff’s Department to the situation on Saturday, Senior Investigator Sean McCulloch said. A warrant allowed them to seize the animals.
The owner – characterized by DeLisle as a breeder -- was arrested on a charge of failing to provide proper food and water, McCulloch said. Additional charges were pending.
The SPCA deferred to the Sheriff’s Department, which declined to release the suspect’s name or booking photograph to NewsChannel 13.
It was unclear whether the woman owned or rented both properties, which are located around the corner from each other. Attempts to find property tax records online were not successful.
A reporter taped a business card, with contact information, to the front door of each home. By early Monday, no one had called.
Ralph Nemeth, who lives nearby, told NewsChannel 13 he was pleased to see the dogs go. Nemeth said he was concerned for their well-being, and worried they would harm his family.
"They run all over my property," Nemeth said. "They chase my children. And they chase my stepfather around, who is 80 years old and just had a stroke."
Nemeth said he had called the police several times in the past. The situation would improve for several weeks then worsen. Nemeth said he was not the tipster who alerted authorities this time.
Nemeth said, to his knowledge, a man owned the dogs. DeLisle, the SPCA investigator, confirmed that authorities were planning to interview a man, as well.
"I'm glad it's over because I'm glad just nobody got hurt," Nemeth said. "None of my children got hurt or bitten, or my parents … I'm glad that it all basically worked out for the best."