HERTFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) – More than 100 dogs and puppies were rescued Tuesday from a North Carolina property the Humane Society calls a “large-scale alleged cruelty situation.”
Local authorities served a search and seizure warrant on the dilapidated property, which included a mobile home and several outdoor pens and yards. Even though much of the property was obscured by debris and an overgrown fence line, those who responded described “generally filthy conditions from the road and could smell feces.”
Over the course of eight hours, 114 dogs, mostly Australian shepherds, were taken off the property.
The Humane Society said the dogs and puppies “appeared to suffer from a lack of basic care and were living in unsanitary, hazardous conditions typically seen in severe neglect situations.”
A veterinarian at the scene said many dogs appeared thin. Some had visible ribs and hip bones protruding, the Humane Society said.
Several dogs, according to the veterinarian, had eye issues, and some dogs and puppies had skin conditions that included missing hair, open sores and itching.
“My heart aches for the mother dogs who have had no choice but to give birth in these sickening, unsafe conditions—this is no place for a puppy,” Gail Thomssen, state director for the Humane Society of the United States in North Carolina, said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office for reaching out to us and helping these dogs get a better life.”
Multiple litters of nursing puppies were seen throughout the property, along with a crated mother dog with matted fur. Some of the puppies were so young their eyes have not yet opened. The humane society said there were other nursing litters of similar ages outdoors in group pens with their mothers watching over them.
They believe the property owner was a breeder.
The Hertford County Sheriff’s Office reached out to the Humane Society for help after residents and others reported buying sick puppies from the breeder and raised concerns about the welfare of the animals on the property. The Humane Society is taking the animals to an undisclosed location to receive follow-up care and veterinary exams.
“This has been a source of great concern in our community,” said Hertford County Sheriff Dexter Hayes. “I’d like to thank the Humane Society of the United States, our deputies and EMS for their assistance in ensuring the wellbeing of these animals, which is of utmost importance to our community, state and nation. We have already heard from members of the community who are grateful to know this is the start of a better life for the dogs rescued here today.”
Neighbors and rescuers cheered as the last dog was removed from the property.
“Today was a good day in the neighborhood,” said Laurie Perry, whose fiancé lives directly across the street. “You couldn’t barbecue because the smell was awful.”
This isn’t the first time the homeowner, Terry Shinaberry, has had trouble with the law. He had 60 dogs removed from his property nearly a decade ago. Shinaberry told folks in 2014 he was running a rescue. This time around neighbors said he lied and said he was a licensed dog breeder.
Shinaberry faces at least eight charges, including two counts of animal cruelty, two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, three counts of obtaining property under false pretense and firearm by felon.