HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — A Cass County judge told an accused hoarder he can’t have his 29 dogs back Thursday.

For months, FOX4 has told you about concerns for the well-being of the dogs living on a junk-filled property in Pleasant Hill on Roush Road and for users of the Katy Trail nearby after seven dog bites.

As temperatures dipped below zero Dec. 22, Raintree Animal Health Center got a call from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office to come check on the dogs with them.

According to a sheriff’s office affidavit for a warrant, based on several visits to the property leading up to the deep freeze the dogs didn’t have any straw to stay warm and were tethered to pieces of junk too short to huddle for body heat.

“The water bowls were empty and we did not see any food in any of  the food bowls,” Raintree Animal Health Center Manager Kim Placke said.

Twenty nine dogs, many of them German Shepard mixes, were seized and brought to Raintree.

“Those dogs would not be here today if they would have remained overnight on the 22nd of December, the weather was just brutal,” said Danna Armstrong who had been working with the owner and authorities to try to help the dogs since 2021.

More than half tested positive for heartworm after being brought to the veterinary hospital.

“There were a lot that were emaciated and thin. There were 3 or 4 that had some injuries and one was life threatening enough our associate doctor had to immediately go into surgery with her,” Placke said.

The owner went before a judge Thursday to try to take the dogs back to the property where he’s accused by Cass County of running an illegal salvage yard. The request was denied.

“I have to agree with what the judge said, yes we all acknowledge you love your dogs, but you aren’t capable of understanding adequate care and applying it,” Armstrong said.

The owner has five days to file an appeal and pay a portion of the $27,300 vet bill. For now, the dogs remain at the Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis.

“I really hope all of them do find a good home. I think with some time and some love these guys will be wonderful pets and family members,” Placke said.