Authorities rescued 83 dogs from three properties owned by a Spanish Fork breeder last week, according to a news release from the Utah County Sheriff‘s Office.
The investigation began on March 31, when an animal control assistant responded to a home in Spanish Fork about a report of malnourished dogs that were “covered in feces.” When talking to one of the owners, the woman told him that she ran a kennel.
While chatting with the owner, the deputy noticed two small puppies lying in the feces of a kennel, both of which were “listless” and appeared to be in distress. She allegedly told the deputy that the puppies were being cared for by a veterinarian in Provo, which he later learned was untrue.
The deputy returned to the River Bottoms area after learning of another report of 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, the statement said.
The deputy learned that the owners held other properties in Orem and Provo which housed more dogs who were also kept in “less than desirable conditions”. Although the owner had a business license for the Orem location, it was designated as office space – and she had no kennel license at any of the three locations, the statement said.
The deputy was unable to reach the owner on further attempts, so he posted a notice at the Spanish Fork home demanding that the puppies be checked by a vet within two weeks.
During the investigation, the deputy learned that the woman’s husband was wanted by the FBI for fraud, according to court documents. The man was arrested without incident at the Orem couple’s home on April 13.
Authorities then issued a search warrant at the couple’s Provo, Spanish Fork and Orem properties on April 14.
Multiple agencies seized two Orem house dogs, 26 Provo house dogs and 55 Spanish Fork house dogs. Authorities reported that many dogs did not have regular access to water, and when given water they “drank voraciously” and immediately fell ill.
They also appeared to have no regular access to food, the press release said, and most – if not all – of the kennels had not been cleaned for a long time. Some kennels were raised in an apparent effort to leave space for feces to fall to the floor, and in many kennels the space was “filled to the bottom with grated platforms”.
This created a muddy mix of urine and feces, and most dogs had nowhere to go when they lay down. Many animals had feces crusted over their coats.
“Many of those involved in the operation described the conditions as deplorable,” the statement said. “As the dogs were cataloged and photographed, most of them seemed delighted to have the attention and they tried to climb on those who held them.”
The dogs were taken to the North and South Valley Animal Shelters in Utah, where they were washed and vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, four of those dogs tested positive for Giardia, a parasite that spreads through contact with contaminated feces or soil.
All dogs were then treated for the parasite. Several others have serious eye infections.
“It will come as no surprise that the staff at the shelter are nearly overwhelmed with their daily efforts to care for these dogs,” officials said in the statement. “Regarding the disposition of the dogs, we hope that the dogs can be adopted. But at this time, this has not been determined.”
The investigation into the case is ongoing. Authorities expect there to be separate charges related to violations in Orem, Provo and Spanish Fork.
If a person needs to report cases of animal abuse or neglect, they should contact local animal control departments or law enforcement, according to the Utah Humane Society.