GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — At least eight puppies died in the Muskegon-area home of a woman now charged with animal cruelty, court records show.
Seventy-eight dogs were seized Monday from the Norton Shores property of Lisa Cober, who has presented her home as an animal shelter.
Court records show Cober told investigators that she had at least 22 puppies at the home. She didn’t know how many adult dogs there were. She also told them that eight of puppies had died at the house and two more had been euthanized due to distemper within the last month. One litter, she said, died “due to failure to thrive.”
The Norton Shores Police Department said a veterinarian who helped get the dogs from Cober’s home told them 25 were sick or injured. The Harbor Humane Society, which took in some of the dogs from Cober’s property, said it was monitoring one puppy for distemper and another for pneumonia. Others had kennel cough.
Video released by the police department shows a crew of people removing the dogs from the home and a shed in the backyard, picking them up one by one and placing them in carriers to be taken to shelters around the area.
The officer who led the raid on Cober’s home reported seeing overcrowded kennels or dogs in kennels that were too small. There was feces on the floor, countertops, walls and in the kennels.
“The odor of urine and feces was overwhelming,” the officer wrote in the court record.
Jen Self-Aulgur, the executive director of the Harbor Humane Society, told News 8 Tuesday that a lot of the dogs had urine scalding, an infection caused by standing in urine.
Health inspectors ultimately deemed the home uninhabitable.
Bex Britz’s family adopted their dog Bailey as a puppy after meeting Cober at a PetSmart adoption day. The dog will turn 3 next month.
Britz was appalled by the conditions shown in the police video but says they were no surprise.
“Within that week (of adopting Bailey), we had over $1,500 in vet bills. She had a horrible case of worms, one of the worst my vet had ever seen. Two of the other puppies that were on the same transport as her were positive for Parvo,” Britz said.
Matt Roberts Chief Trial Attorney with the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office said Cober faces a felony animal cruelty charge and could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
“Once you assume the care of these animals, you don’t get to say, ‘Well, things got out of control and I couldn’t control the situation anymore.’ You held yourself out in a position to do it and to take care of these animals and you had that responsibility,” Roberts said.
Cober was arraigned Tuesday on a count of abandoning or cruelty to 25 or more animals, court records show. Bond was set at $1,000. She’s expected back in court on Feb. 14 for a hearing.