NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) —A woman has been charged with animal neglect after a police search found 78 dogs living in unfit conditions in her Norton Shores home.
The Norton Shores Police Department got a tip from a director at Pound Buddies Animal Shelter that many animals were living at a house on Sheffield Street near West Columbia Avenue in Norton Shores. The director said the homeowner was the owner of Cober Canine shelter.
The complaint alleged the “excessive number of dogs” were living in poor health and “dreadful” living conditions, according to Norton Shores police. The complaint included photos and said that the home was a health hazard to animals in the community.
Police got a search warrant and and investigated the home on Jan. 30. Pound Buddies, Harbor Humane Society and Glen Park Animal Hospital helped detectives.
A total of 78 dogs were seized from the home and taken to local shelters to be evaluated and temporarily placed.
Many of the dogs need medical treatment and the shelters say the conditions were some of the worst they have ever seen.
“It was bad. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I’ve been to a lot of horrible places and seen a lot of horrible things and to have something like this close in our backyard, disguised as a rescue, is a travesty,” said Jen Self-Aulgur, the executive director of the Harbor Humane Society.
Veterinarians spent Tuesday evaluating and treating the dogs.
“A lot of illness. Two of the puppies that we have, one potentially has distemper, another potentially has pneumonia. We’re seeing a lot of evidence of kennel cough. A lot of the dogs had urine scalding from standing in their own urine for God knows how long,” Self-Aulgur said.
“A lot of them were scared. It seemed to be that they probably had been in their cages not with a lot of socialization for long periods of time. Tons if feces everywhere,” she said. “Deplorable living conditions.”
The Harbor Humane Society in West Olive is caring for 20 of the dogs. Self-Aulgur said taking in the dogs is a burden for the shelter, as it already has several dogs.
The Pound Buddies Animal Shelter in the Muskegon helped transport the dogs and was the first place the animals were processed.
“It was pretty packed in there when we opened the door. Immediately people were greeted with 30 plus dogs in just the main entryway and so to even be able to walk in through the front door, those animals had to be secured and then there was animals in every nook and cranny,” said Lana Carson, the executive director for Pound Buddies Animal Shelter.
She said the dogs were living in a small space.
“It was just very overcrowded and with that comes a very unhealthy and unsanitary conditions, so feces everywhere, just very unkept living conditions. Very crammed living conditions,” Carson said.
Lisa Cober was arrested and booked into the Muskegon County Jail. She was arraigned Tuesday on a charge 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.
The Norton Shores Building Division inspected the property and said it was not fit to live in.
“I think it’s just really important for people to realize that the source of where you get your animal matters,” Self-Aulgur said. “Whether you’re adopting it or you’re buying it from a breeder or you’re purchasing it from a pet store, make sure that you see where that animal came from.”
The dogs cannot be adopted at this time. If you want to help, you can volunteer or donate supplies.
— News 8’s Madalyn Buursma contributed to this report.