Friday, December 12, 2008

Police: dogs, cats found in 'dungeon-like conditions'

LITHIA -- From the outside, Hillsborough Animal Services investigators say you wouldn't suspect anything was going on, but inside a Lithia home investigators, described it as a dog dungeon.

Dozens and dozens of dogs and puppies were seized on Wednesday. Investigators say they found four dead dogs on the property on Pelote Cemetery Road, and others in really bad shape.

"The kinds of things we found is animals completely matted. And I'm not just talking about a tangle," explained Marti Ryan with Hillsborough Animal Services. "I'm talking about what looked like dreadlocks of waste product hanging from their face, their eyes, their nails."

Investigators say some dogs had not seen sunlight in a long time. Neighbor Debra Marks often complained about the bad odor coming from the home next door.

"I couldn't sit on my pool deck cause the smell was bad, real bad," Marks said.

The dog owner, Ian Roth, shielded his face from Fox 13 cameras when investigators showed up with a search warrant. Roth was cited back in 2004 for not having a breeding permit. Now investigators say he faces more serious felony charges.

A total of 75 dogs were taken, including some cats and birds. Neighbor DJ Marks is shocked to hear the number was so high.

"Anybody that has 75 dogs and is trying to make a living selling dogs, and they can treat the dogs that way, that to me is no respect for any kind of human being or animal," Marks said.

Roth will be charged with several counts of animal cruelty. The dogs will be evaluated at animal services, and eventually be put up for adoption.

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