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

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.
Cary Ashby
Jul 25, 2010


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.



This makes me so mad. People are dumb. These animals can't even defend themselves. I hope these people go to jail. There is no excuse for their actions.

swiss family

this is outragous!!! what kind of a sick twisted person, abuses animals this way?? i wish that we could treat her the way that she treated these helpless creatures, walking around in their own feces, surrounded by dead, or dying animals, without food and water... she must be satan's daughter....

i would hope that the girls that protested when the circus came to town, are seeing this.. now is the proper time to protest.. we should all be there on March 24 at the Municipal court building, asking the judge to make this woman, pay for the crimes she has instilled in these creatures...she also , deserves to know how the community feels about her, and her pet care practices!!!

the one problem that i have with the story though, is , that the people who turned her in should be rewarded, or at least remain anonamous, but the story says how they are associated with the criminal, which pretty much says to her, who it was that turned her in.. this is unacceptable.. the whole point is that people should be able to turn an offender in to the authorities, without the fear of being identified... and it is clear that the system has failed them again!! it is ashame, but it is probably this reason that people are so reluctant to turn in someone who is abusing weaker creatures, whether it is children, or animals..

when you tell us that we are encouraged to turn in criminals, without identifing ourselves.. please mean it


OMG! This is the first time in a long time that I agree with Swiss. This is outragous! I, myself, am a pet owner, I own, breed and train triple registered (UKC, AKC, PKC) coonhounds. It confuses me on why a person would bring animals into their home as pets, them abuse/neglect them.

I'm so glad that the complainant (of which I don't see her name mentioned) called and placed this complaint. I'm glad to see the book is going to be thrown right at her. People like this make it hard on those of us that take exemplory care of our animals. PETA and the like look for stupid crap like this all the time. This woman should be put in a very small kennel, with no food or water or shelter for that matter and left there just as long as those poor defenseless animals were. I'd like to be at that court house March 24th, I have a few things I'd like to say to her in person. We should all show up, bring a pet, show her what a "well taken care of" pet looks like. Maybe she needs some "hands on" training!?!


I would keep this link close by at all times for you protection.


This just makes me sick to my stomach!!! I sit here typing this with my three dogs sleeping next to me and I think about what those poor animals had to go through!!! This woman needs to find herself serving time for this! I just can't get past the shock of this story!!


Damage has been done and the court will take care of it now. BUT,,,the Humane SOciety will probably be getting custady of the rest of these animals. Instead of sitting around complaining go donate money and or your time and open your home up to fostering one or 2 animals. I am with a rescue and I foster and it is an awesome feeling when you can actually see these dogs getting better then being adopted out to a deserving family.


re: HEY YOU.

How do you know that those "sitting around complaining" don't do those things? I for one am a Veterinary Technician student and do volunteer and do make countless donations but I don't need to bring it up and bring attention to it...I am only now doing so because I think your making unjust assumptions.


Sorry you feel you need to attack me!

MOST people do sit around and complaine and do nothing to help, like in this case. Thats great your a vet teck student congrats and you donate,,more power to keep up the good work :)


I'll tell ya what my donation is going to be....a trip to the court house! Donate my time to be on a jury!!!

ICARE (Anonymous)

This time, we all need to find a way to make the courts make this woman pay for what she did. She can not be aloud to get away with a slap on the wrist. We can all say that we want her to suffer the same fate she choose for those animals but the truth is, our court systems don't treat people like this as the murders they are. This article should have appeared in every newspaper in the state, it should have made the tv news. There needs to be constant presure on the Humane Society to get all the surviving animals out now. And not just the dogs. This woman has or has killed all differents kinds of domestic animals and they all matter. Maybe if we keep this in the news and get enough people angry we can finally make someone pay for what they have done.


This message it to ICARE. I am a Huron County Humane Investigator. I was on this call. If you do not know the facts, you need to keep your mouth shut. They would not let us take a lot of the animals. She agreed we could take the ones in the worst shape. It was also on the TV. Obviously you dont pay attention. It was all over Fox 8! And putting constant pressure on the Humane Society is not going to get you anywhere. We cant just walk in and do anything we want. So please, dont treat us like we are the bad guys. If we didnt care, we wouldnt have gone out there in the first case. As long as the judge allows us, we ARE going to take all the animals.

swiss family

it would really be incredible if everyone who feels that what this "woman" did, is appauling and outragous, would stand outside the muni court building in protest on the day of her hearing.. which i believe the court date is March 24th.. someone needs to stand up and speak for these animals, and all abused animal, letting the courts see first hand, that we want these people charged with the worst possible charge.. and we want them punished to the full extent...

our pets are a part of our lives, and a part of many families.. and it breaks our hearts to see people throw them out car windows, or throw them over cliffs, or poison them, or hurt them in any way..they are really just the best example of kindness, love, and loyalty, wrapped up in fur, and we love them , and won't tolerate them being abused and harmed


This is appauling. This woman should be punished to the fullest extent the law will allow. I have 3 of them we rescued from a shelter and they are spoiled, well fed, clean happy dogs. I just cry when I think about those poor animials and the conditions they were forced to live in. Hopefully they will be adopted by loving families and learn what a dogs life should be like.

ICARE (Anonymous)

First of all let me say that although I do not understand the Huron County Humane Investigator taking offense to what I wrote earlier I do applogize. I fail to understand why everyone would not want crimes like these covered on every tv station and in every newspaper and even radio as far as that goes. I also fail to understand how getting as much of the public involved as possible is a bad thing. I mean if you walk into a place and find dead, dieing and sick animals all over the place and all you can do is remove 4 of them because the woman gave you premission I would think you would be begging for public support to help change the laws, speed up the court system or anything else it takes to stop this. The whole point of my earlier comment was to say that this woman deserves no less then what she put each and everyone of those poor helpless animals thru. And there are millions of people who feel the same way and we all want to help change this.

swiss family

to "ICARE" if you don't understand why the humane investigator is upset with what you said... why are you apologizing?? it doesn't make any sense, and it really doesnt mean much if youy apologize for something, when you have no idea why you are doing it!!


ms_astro. i totaly agree with you. it sickens me when i see or hear of animals being treated like this. our animals love us unconditionally and we love them back the same way. i cant imagine life without my furry fuzzy kids.

this B!TCH should have to live like she made these animals live for a few months.

everyone complains and does nothing to help these animals are cowards. go to the humane center and at least donate a few $$$ or a bag of food.


The Humane Society can't just walk up and take all of the animals on the property because the state and laws view these pets as property...Ohio has weak laws when it comes to animal cruelty, everyday I read horrible stories and it's just getting worse and more frequent! I don't know how to go about getting the laws changed but I will be looking into it...all her animals should be gone. The H.C.H.S is doing their job but they have their hands tied by the laws!!! I agree with Swiss we should protest her court hearing.


adding to wilburcat's reply...if you can't afford a money donation stop by a dollar store and pick up a few towels,some laundry soap, bleach, ect...donate a basket full of goodies that don't cost much but mean a lot to those who care for the animals and to the animals themselves!


Also if you do not have the money to donate or money to buy things,,after they get the rest of the animals by all means go out to the HS in the mornings and donate your time by doing dishes and anything else they need help with. THey always appericate good workers.

swiss family

i was hoping that there would be a wesite for the muni court, so i could tell them how outragous i think that this persons crimes are, but i can't seem to find one.. i did find their home page, but i didn't locate a way to let them know what i think.. if anyone has an e-mail address to let them know what i, or any of us feel, please share it....animals are such loving, trusting creatures.. they deserve to be supported, and when someone is exposed to be abusing them in such a mass example..we need to become their voices!!!

whatever you say

To hey you-- ur wrong. I AM CLOSELY related to an individual who works/runs a rescue and placement group in Lorain county. I have been with her and her coworkers (who all voluntarily give their time and money) on rescue missions and have first hand witnessed how they can take ANY animal or animals out of an abusive/neglectful situation. If one animal is removed, they are all removed. All that is needed is members who are willing to foster the animals. A sheriff or city police officer must be present and feel like removal is the best option and fill out a report. Those are the only requirements if the owner refuses to voluntarily hand over the animals.

The facts are so clear to anyone, even those not in presence that day. One dead or abused animal should be enough to remove ALL animals. If someone can do this to even just one, they most certainly have no problem abusing/neglecting the one you left behind as your pulling away from their home. These people sound like the sort who will kill off or destroy the animals left with them to get rid of evidence.

Dont tell me to shut up or put either, becuz I do volunteer for animal advocate groups all the time, as do my children and extended family members. Just not in this county. The huron county human society alienates people and does not do their job as they should. Sometimes, people, good people, fall on hard times and can no longer afford to or are able to care for the animals who have become a cherished member of their families. The society here refuses to accept animals from people and uses the excuses of they are full and running low on funds as their built in reasons. They do not get involved in community projects to prevent unwanted animals, as they should. They should talk to local vets and offer free vet clinics every so often, or programs to help ensure people are knowledgable about caring for animals. Instead, I see about pup parades, their begging for money and nothing in return and stories like this one where these people probable asked for help and were denied because they aren't in the societies little clique of members or members families. They deny this, of course, but just try to catch a stray animal and take to them. They tell you that it is YOUR responsibility now because you caught it and tried to do the right thing.

Ask around about your reputation out there at the humane society, even other counties laugh about you and your ways of doing things.

k-9 care

To Humane Investigator- Who wouldn't allow you to take the other animals? Your search warrant should have included house and out buildings. You also included the Dog Warden, who can remove dogs with or without licences when found in the condition/environment described. Around the mid 90's- there is a court of appeals involving horses that were kept in one county and kept on the residents property. Some of the horses were in bad shape, they were confiscated while the others were left because they didn't look as bad. The court of appeals ruled that you are to take all of them because if some were neglected, all of them could have been treated in the same manner. Your warrant should have included everything, cages, any vet records,ect.. Those are all evidence in a criminal case. Are you certified to do your job? If not, you are in violation of the State Law. The Humane Society personel, including you are committing acts of cruelty to animals, because the law says, every act of omission. There is no

Bar which protects the Humane Society or it's personel from being prosecuted. Son't let your unprofessional attitude get in the way of knowing the law not just the "facts" From a retired Ohio Dog Warden

whatever you say

Another fact: most humane societies in good standing have local vets who help, volunteer, and offer free medical care for abused animals in the county when they are rescued. (or at a huge discount) My sister, the relative mentioned earlier, has many vets helping them out because they help each other and they all share a common love for animals who can not help themselves. She has many families and friends who offer their homes to help foster animals (including me!) because the work she does makes a difference and they go beyond the fiscal/financial end of the work they do. She has forged relationships with many large chain stores and small neighborhood stores who offer to help with free animal food and pet supplies. It takes effort, not a sense of righteousness. She gets out in the community, talks to people, police, council members and anyone else who will listen and lend a hand. To those who wont or cant, she still thanks them and moves on. Her life and love is built around her willingness to actually get her hands dirty to help those animals who can not help themselves. She has rescued animals from horses, to alligators, to birds, and even some fish. She is not biased by how much those she helps can give her back in return like our society here. And while her desk is piled high with bills they are having trouble paying, her group NEVER refuses an animal help or a family who got overwhelmed with an animal they can no longer care for. As an investigator as you claim to be, how can you sleep at night knowing you left those poor animals to once again fend for themselves? You should be ashamed and hang your head low.

I hope your conscious allows you to block out every minute the thoughts about which animal is dead or dying in that home at every moment of the day.

swiss family

you do make some valid points,, i always thought that it seemed unfar, that if i find a stray animal, and want to take it to the humane soc. they want to charge me for them to take it.. i do believe that they could be more assertive as well, why don't they go to the local grocery stores and all of the "Marts" in the area, and see if they will donate scratch and dent items like bleach, detergent outdated dog and cat supplies etc.. it has almost become a county "clic" and that doesnt help the poor helpless animals for which it was designed to do

David Deerest.

swiss, I can see your point, but there's too much 'legal' action and red tape- there are good reasons they (the 'marts') don't donate. Too many 'sue happy' in this county, for one. Also, it tends to infringe on the companies right to take credit for 'scratch and dented' items. Thus the reason donations from you and others like you who care are so important to the animal shelters in the area. They depend on us to help them out. When we lost our dog, we donated her leftover food, snacks, toys (that were in good shape) anything we thought they could use. But it's vital that they receive help every day of the year from people like us. It really doesn't cost much for a 50 pound bag of food, they'd be very happy to get it. Not a whole lot of effort to do that, say twice a year. I don't know exactly what a county "clic" is, but they are helping the animals. It's YOUR job to help THEM help the animals. Don't just sit back and cut people down on here that you think are not helping, and do something yourself? Why not donate your gov't. refund check to THEM?


I think a few of us should show up at her sentencing. I'm an Officer for the OSSDA ( Ohio Sportsman and Sporting Dog Association). I'd love to "take her to school" so to speak.

k-9 care

There is no room for politics when it comes to the welfare of animals, because then, the animals are once again neglected, or used for personal recognition. The real issues are the laws and how can we make a difference? Donating to animal shelters/Humane Societies,although helpful, is not enough. Yes the laws in Ohio are antiquated, however, other states, ex: Missouri, have some of the toughest cruelty laws. We need to find out what they did to change the laws and follow suit. As "whatever you say" said, " It takes effort". Those efforts could change the future.

swiss family

to "Deer Dave" , first of all, i am very sorry to hear that you went through the devestation of losing your dog.. as a long time pet owner, i have seen some of my own pets die, some in my arms, and it is never easy to lose something so loyal, and dedicated, as a pet is.. it was also genorous of you to think of giving, and to give your pets left over things, especially at such a hard time..that actually gives me some respect for is the part where i have to disagree with you alittle.. i do understand that there is alot of "red tape" with some of the stores donating things to the humane soc. especially if it is outdated or obsolete... but if someone was really creative, there are ways to get around that .. ok, so the company has to dispose of the merchandise,.. so they get their tax credit, but it seems to be ashame to just throw all of that stuff out.. so suppose that the humane soc knew that they were going to throw away things on the 5th of each month, and it was going to sit on a skid right outside of their backdoor.. and hopefully no one would take it before it goes into the dumpster, with all of the garbage... see my many things are possible, by bending the rules alittle sometimes.. i do agree that there needs to be rules in place . for the extreme cases.. but i have seen in some stores where they sell products very cheap.. because they are almost or are at their expiration date !!!

so this would not be considered a donation, by anyone.. and the store gets their credit.. and the animals get some food, toys, treats etc.. win, win !!!

sometimes people need to think outside of the box alittle to get things done.. i can assure you that all of the truely great inventors, and adventurers, and scientists. thought outside of the box.. and that is how they changed things in the world

oh , and one more thing.. redneck_girl.. i hope that you and alot of other people are able to stand outside the muni court building in protest on the 24th.. it would really be a great display of intolerance!!!

whatever you say

Most stores DONATE. Thats where they allow some of their goods to be given to local charities, or "do good" societies. In return, they take a tax credit, usually much higher then the value of the donated items. Yes, most of the time it is older, almost outdated goods. If the society here is not getting donation from stores in the area, then they need to start building relationships instead of sitting there depending on people like you who tell everyone it is the public's responsibility to support them. Especially when they only help a few select members of that public.

We are responsible for our own pets. I pay for their medical care, to have them spaded/neutered, shots, check-ups, and licensed. Yet, when I saved 2 stray cats from being tortured by some teenaged boys, the humane society informed me that since I took the cats into my home briefly to save their lives, it was now my job to care for and get them medical help. I couldn't afford to care for another animal at that time, so I went outside my own county to be able to find them safe homes. That is why I will not donate anything to the local society. My money/donations go to those who have actually helped the animals, no matter what the situation is. AND I DO donate my state refund EVERY year to animal causes. I have for over 15 years now.

ICARE (Anonymous)

Although it's wonderful to see some real communication on ways to help our animals, I really do think we are getting away from the real issues. This is a serious state wide problem. And although donating food, toys, and blankets and picketing court houses is great and needs to happen alot more then it does. The reality is it does little if anything to fix the real problems. The 4 dogs that were removed from this womans house are more than likely adopted and God willing will be allowed to live the rest of there lives in nothing but the best of all possible homes. But its been a week now, how many more have died in the worst of all possible situations? And how many more are there still living this nightmare? I for one want to do more I want to be a part of making sure this never ever happens in our state or anywhere else ever again. And I stand willing along with millions of other people to help change this. That being said, Should it not be the Humane Societes and animal shelters that are the ones leading the charge to fix this? Shouldn't it be them telling us what we need to do? Please do not misunderstand what I'm saying, we all need to give as much as we can to help these animals. One possible start may be to continue to give food and blankets but make sure that any monitery donations are given for a specific purpose. Maybe like hiring an attorney who is also an animal advocate who will help us. We need someone to guide us, to help us change laws, hold Humane Societies accountable and/or whatever else it takes to really make a long term difference.