Woman charged in case of 90 dogs seized in Butler County

Nearly 90 dogs were seized early Thursday from a property on Mosiman Road in Madison Twp., where about another 30 canines were found dead by the Butler County deputies and deputy dog wardens.

Now, the Animal Friends Humane Society on Princeton Road in Hamilton is tasked with housing the pups in a facility that already is bursting at the seams.

Animals were found in the house and other buildings on the property, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, where the investigation is continuing.

Late Friday afternoon, property owner Rhonda Murphy was charged with one felony count of cruelty to companion animals and two misdemeanor counts in Middletown Municipal Court. A warrant was issued for her arrest.

It appears the property owner ran a rescue, Helping Hands for Furry Paws, but it got out of hand, according to the sheriff’s office and Megan Poffenbarger, a former dog warden and current intact specialist at Animal Friends.

Poffenbarger said the staff is assessing the dogs and they are receiving veterinarian care. A few of the dogs are injured and have skin conditions, she said.

At last count, there were 86 dogs seized that the shelter is now caring for — and will be for the foreseeable future.

“We unfortunately don’t have the cage space for this, so some of the dogs are in pop-up kennels … they are about to come into our offices. It is a lot, “ she said.

There are senior dogs as well as nursing mothers and newborn puppies. Most are hound and retriever mixes that need socialization, but will one day be adoptable.

“It is a good crew. All the dogs have been pretty friendly,” Poffenbarger said. “They are starving for treats and attention. They are really enjoying all the attention and food.”

Less than 24 hours after the shelter posted information about the situation and how residents could help, more than $13,000 in donations poured in.

“We are very fortunate for the community stepping up,” she said. “It is amazing to see.”

Many people also have ordered shipments of food, toys and treats for the dogs.

“We may need to send out some apologies to Amazon because they are going to be stopping here a lot,” Poffenbarger said.

She added people can help out with fostering or adopting dogs already in the shelter to free up space for the new dogs. The dogs seized will have strict restrictions until the court case is concluded.

Investigators on the scene Thursday said they found the animals in “the most horrible conditions they have ever seen,” said Sheriff Richard Jones.

Remains of deceased canines were located in five different refrigerators/freezers on the property, some of which were not working. Other deceased canines were found in varying states of decomposition, including both adult canines and puppies.

One garage housed more than 25 dogs in cages with no ventilation or air conditioning, with measured indoor temperatures of 89 degrees.

Numerous animals were housed together in cages filled with urine, fecal matter but without food nor water. One cage contained a mother and eight newborn puppies. The main house contained 11 adult canines, some caged together.

“Neglect that rises to this horrific level of cruelty will never be tolerated in this county. If you find you can’t properly care for your animals, there are many agencies that will help. Otherwise you will go to jail,” Jones said.

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