Breaking News: Animal Rescue Team Descends on Terrible Neglect Scene in Ohio

By on December 9, 2015 with 22 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

This morning, HSUS staff, along with members of the sheriff’s office in Adams County, Ohio, walked in on a horrific sight during an animal rescue mission: on the property of what had once been registered as a nonprofit rescue sanctuary were dogs and cats of all ages — 166 animals, in all. There were dogs in pens, on chains, inside crates, and roaming loose. Some were emaciated. There were animals with untreated wounds, flea and tick infestations, severe eye and ear infections, and mange. One of the dogs was missing an eye, another had a broken leg.

Deer carcasses dotted the property: it was the primary food source for the dogs who were scavenging and picking at them. The stench, one of the rescuers recounted, was terrible. It was animal neglect at its worst.

I have shared with you before stories of our animal rescue missions against dogfighters and puppy mills. We also take on neglect, general cruelty, and animal hoarding cases.  This was an especially horrific one, according to our rescuers, who have through the years seen flashes of the worst of humanity.

The animals, who greeted our rescuers with wags and kisses despite a prior lifetime of neglect, have been removed from the site to a temporary shelter where they will receive medical attention and care. We are thankful to agencies who are assisting with the care of the animals, including Red Rover, Rescue Bank, Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, and Greater Good.

The blend of animal cruelty and animal hoarding is a challenge for animal care and law enforcement personnel all over the country. There is often little recourse to prevent the hoarder from recidivism. In fact, pathological hoarders have recidivism rates approaching 100 percent. The responsibility for addressing these cases falls primarily on local law enforcement and humane organizations and the cost of long-term medical care and sheltering places enormous financial burdens on them.

Animal cruelty charges that result in meaningful penalties are a necessary part of an effective response from the judicial system. But, especially in cases like this, we ask that the courts impose a period of long-term probation, a ban on animal ownership for these individuals, and psychological counseling. If we are to break the cycle of hoarding, we must have multiple agencies play a role, including those specializing in psychiatric treatment.

We are glad we were able to intervene. Yet, it’s a sad circumstance and one we must prevent with stronger laws in Ohio and a more determined approached to root out animal problems. We are committed to fortifying the legal framework for animals in Ohio, strengthening the anti-cruelty statutes, and cracking down on practices such as illegal cockfighting, puppy mills, hoarding, and neglect.

* Editor’s note: The total tally of animals rescued during this mission has been updated.

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  1. Meeche Miller says:

    I hope the owners of this place was arrested and charged with Animal abuse! NO excuse if they were not arrested – this is unforgivable. Prosec ute the bums to the full extent of the law

  2. Doris Muller says:

    I’m always curious to know how the HSUS is alerted to these horrific situations, since these hoarders are very secretive. While I realize that most hoarders are mentally ill, they still have the presence of mind to keep their situation secret.

    Evidence shows that not all those who neglect animals in their care are mentally ill hoarders. Some are just cruel,heartless dangerous humans who are not fazed by animal suffering.

    Thank you for your humane work.

  3. Marilyn says:

    What is wrong with people and why wasn’t this called in sooner by witnesses to it? Don’t wait so long people!!

  4. angela newsom says:

    outrage and sorrow

  5. Lucy A Torres says:

    Please incarcerate these sub-humans and get them some training and education before you release them. A data base needs to be initiated whereby the offenders names and addresses are posted for all to see. Just like we have data bases for child molesters we need a resource for tracking these murderers. The sooner the better.

  6. Sharon says:

    I grew up in this county and everytime I go home it disgusts me how people there let their dogs run loose or keep them chained up. Or drop off unwanted litters in the woods or worse, taking them to the river to drown them. Thank God I moved away.

  7. Rita Botine says:

    When I hear about these terrible situations, I always wonder, how could it go on for so long without anyone noticing, and why weren’t the animals rescued before it got this bad?

  8. more to this story says:

    There seems to be more to this story ..

    For example, although there are reports, such as in the blog post that they’ve lost their 501(c) status, they appear to still be an active rescue and adoption organization ….

    for example, See here (note I wouldn’t be surprised that if by some point some of these links disappear):

    This from a link from their facebook page (especially note the portion that says :”Sugar Bear Dog and Cat Rescue has recently taken in a large number of dogs and cats needing extensive medical attention, and its funds are completely depleted. ”

    and this one :


    doesn’t seem to me to quite fit into the “hoarders” catagory …..

  9. more to this story says:

    Sorry, I left out the link for this portion of above post :

    This from a link from their facebook page (especially note the portion that says :”Sugar Bear Dog and Cat Rescue has recently taken in a large number of dogs and cats needing extensive medical attention, and its funds are completely depleted. ” …

    The link I was referring to is here :

  10. kate says:

    the dogs stories are bad but what about the deer who were murdered….

  11. Rebecca says:

    Thank God these animals were found! I hope they all will survive and find real forever homes !!

  12. more to this story says:

    even more to this story …

    Consider this — according to below article from 2012, Ohio SPCA called for action against the Adams county dog pound – regarding issues with euthanasia and proper veterinary care (in 2004 Ohio SPCA won a lawsuit against adams county regarding operation of the dog pound) –

    Note this is the same dog pound involved in the raid/called in HSUS …..


    And here is a article from a local adams county newspaper/local reporter — I’m still unsure who/for what reasons the search warrant was issued(who reported the situation/etc?), but I have to wonder if anyone actually attempted to contact them in a more civilized fashion and offer to help them with the care of the animals, rather than to conduct a raid …

    In addition to the info at the end regarding how the adams county dog pound has gotten much “better” One quote from that article which caught my eye (as I am familiar with the area involved) is this :

    “Deputy Micah Poe who was present during the raid told the Defender, “It was surprising to see the conditions the animals and the people were living in.” …

    Note the part about the PEOPLE …. While that might surprise most, again, being familiar with that area, it doesn’t surprise me at all, except that the deputy was surprised ….


    This comment from ACORN (Adams County Ohio Rescue Network), from their facebook page here :

    is probably the best summation of the situation so far I have seen :

    ACORN Adams County Ohio Rescue Network, Inc This is an example of how quickly a rescue can get in over their heads. They became a dumping place for un-wanted dogs and cats and tried to take care of them all, but got over whelmed in recent years. The animals are getting the care they need and the owners of the rescue are getting much needed help. Prayers for all involved.


    As for my comments — It appears these folks started their (no-kill) operation in order to rescue/help animals, and I would even speculate they may have had concerns about the situation with the adams county pound ..

    Certianly, it seems to me these folks should have attempted to get help from other animal rescue organizations/etc. Maybe they did, I do not know – those details aren’t clear as we haven’t heard much of their story yet.

    But, perhaps we should refrain from judging them too harshly and wait for more details (if any are forthcoming) rather than to “blend” them in, so to speak, with animal cruelty offenders or “hoarders” ….

  13. Mary says:

    I believe that with training volunteers in Ohio the state would get alot of support to assist with cleaning up this mess we have with neglect and cruelty. Oour laws need to change and judges need trained on the impact to society when these things continue to occur.

  14. Jamie says:

    I know these ppl and I think it messed up that there was that many dogs and cats I think the owners should be punished with tickets and jail time if not more that’s messed up I think this should never happen again and they need to make sure it don’t

  15. Eric says:

    This guy might be getting raked over the coals. I’m not going to defend him but do want to share my experience since I rescued a dog from Sugar Bear in September 2015. We had to provide 3 references and our vets’ names and number. They called every reference, including the vet. I made the mistake of not letting my vet know upfront that she would be receiving a call, and when Sugar Bear called her, she was taken by surprise and didn’t give them any info. Sugar Bear called us and we were told we weren’t able to adopt since they couldn’t verify that we were responsible pet owners. Once I informed my vet what was going on, they cleared it up and we adopted a dog. Sugar Bear’s screening process to ensure these animals go to good homes tells me that they have some legitimacy. The dog we adopted was micro-chipped, spayed, had up to date shot records, and arrived with extra food and 3 months of preventative heart worm medicine. Kitty took the time to go over all of the paperwork with us and made sure we had all the knowledge we would need to be successful owners. Sugar Bear did this before letting us have the dog. Pretty responsible I say.
    As far as the animals in poor condition…..I can’t help but wonder…isn’t that why Sugar Bear rescued them to begin with? The stray dogs, dogs abused and beaten by previous owners, dogs left chained up outside with no food or water. The dog we adopted from them was a stray and malnourished because…SHE WAS A STRAY! She’s healthy now and in great shape and lives in a good home because Sugar Bear did their due diligence. Yes, the conditions they were rescued from were deplorable, but maybe it’s better than living in the possibly abusive or neglectful place from where they came. I think Sugar Bear is getting raked over the coals before other facts are being considered. And, like many other stories the media puts out, they don’t always disclose all the facts, just the parts that evoke emotions and get ratings. I hope the authorities do a proper investigation. If Sugar Bear truly was abusive, then they’ll have to be accountable. If the animals they took in were in poor condition when they received them, that makes sense. I think the people of Sugar Bear, in my experience, have their hearts in the right place. I believe they don’t possess all the resources and facilities necessary for an ideal operation. At least they tried though which most people, including me, are unwilling to do.

    • Brenda says:

      I adopted a pet from Sugar Bear Sept. 2014 and had much the same experience this gentlemen (Eric) had regarding references and Vet checks. Kitty also made follow-up calls to make sure the adoption was going well. I also agree this is an issue of good intentions gone wrong. Their side of the story would be interesting to hear also before judgement is passed.

  16. Helen Plata says:

    Were the hoarders apprehended? Pls serve justice to these animals! These scums should not get scot-free! They should be convicted & jailed.

  17. Dave says:

    My experience with Sugar Bear was basically the same as Eric’s, but in 2010, not 2015.

    Kitty Meyer thoroughly checked my references (including vet). She was very firm on what leash, collar, tag, crate, food, etc., we had to buy. The dog we adopted was in great physical and mental shape, freshly spayed, with up-to-date shots. Not chipped, but again this was 2010, not 2015.

    It’s too bad that Sugar Bear didn’t have the money and organizational resources to give every dog A+ treatment. Probably most people reading this blog could have donated more than we did to help this shelter or another one. Anyway, I am grateful for the help they gave my dog, who is a joy to our whole family.

  18. Doris says:

    Hope all the dogs get vet checked an find permanent loving home .
    I pray to God these abusers get charged an don’t have any contact around animals for rest of there lives how could this be not seen or found of what was happing to these poor babies . Please people let’s be the voices for all the animals being abused for a buck . People need to speak out an report animal abuse .please donate to help these baby out . Canada.

  19. Mike says:

    We rescued a dog from her in September 15… although the 2 year old was misrepresented as being housebroken all has been normal training and developing the dog to be part of our family. The conditions are deplorable and unacceptable. I will wait for “the rest of the story”

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