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Dead, neglected animals found at area home; Humane Society seeks homes for rescued dogs

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:09 PM

A woman has been charged after authorities found a slew of dead and neglected animals at her rural New London home.

There were 25 dogs outside and 17 inside, along with numerous cats, hamsters and birds when three Huron County Humane Society investigators and two deputy dog wardens went to the home at 1056 Ohio 60 on Feb. 19.

The Humane Society charged Donna Dennis, 41, with four counts of cruelty to animals. She is scheduled to be arraigned March 24 in Norwalk Municipal Court.

Humane Society Operations Manager Ken Stewart said investigators “took the four worst” animals into custody. The four dogs — a Rottweiler, a labrador mix, a beagle mix and a spaniel mix — have been at the shelter since Feb. 21.

“When we initially got them, they were in poor health,” Stewart said. “We’re pretty sure one has congestive heart failure, just like a person.”

The Humane Society is seeking new homes for the dogs.

Stewart said the dogs, which previously had “poor grooming habits,” are wonderful animals that have been checked by a veterinarian and are getting excellent care. He  said the dogs are “very adoptable.”

Investigators are trying to get custody of the other animals, which are still at the home. Stewart said Dennis, listed as the owner of the four dogs, has been allowed to keep the other animals because she has been providing them food, water and shelter.

“If everything goes well with the court system, I hope all the animals will become the property of the Humane Society,” Stewart said.

Investigator Karla Williams and four other investigators went to Dennis’ rural New London home Feb. 19 with a search warrant. Earlier that day, a woman called the Huron County Dog Warden’s Office, saying she and her husband had seen dead and neglected animals at the home.

The woman also said her husband “had helped the residents of that address remove multiple deceased animals from the inside of the home,” Williams wrote in her search warrant filed Feb. 22 in municipal court.

The complainant further accused the residents of refusing to provide water to the dogs being kept outside. She also said there were “numerous places on the property (where) there are too many dogs confined in cages that are too small … (and) a significant accumulation of animal feces in the residence and inside the cages,” Williams wrote.

The husband, who was last at the home in early February, also said some of the cages had cats “that look as if they have been eaten by other cats.” He also mentioned there were “dead dogs under tarps and in the dumpster outside” as well as “a room with plastic on the walls … (with) about 60 dead birds,” Williams wrote.

“He stated that he assisted in the removal of deceased cats, guinea pigs, birds and other carcasses from the residence. He stated that Mike and Donna do not feed or take care of the animals they have,” Williams wrote.

Stewart said he wasn’t “at liberty” to discuss what happened to the dead animals.

When Williams was at the home Feb. 19, she estimated there were about 15 dogs “confined” outside the home.

“It did not appear that any more than one or two of the dogs had containers that could hold water or food. Most of the dogs appeared to be underweight. There was no one home at the residence,” Williams wrote.

The complainant’s husband said he started working for Donna and Mike Dennis in January.

Stewart said investigators looked into a complaint against the couple about a year ago, but “conditions were fine at that point.” He said the complaint was unfounded and/or “corrective action was taken.”

Residents who are interested in making monetary contributions to the four dogs’ veterinarian care, providing blankets for the animals or want to adopt them are encouraged to call the Huron County Humane Society at (419) 663-7158.

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