Authorities raided two Sheepshead Bay homes owned by one couple, leading to the rescue of 23 dogs living in deplorable conditions.
Officials from a slew of agencies – including Animal Care & Control, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, FDNY, NYPD, Department of Buildings and Department of Health – descended first on 2713 Avenue Y this morning with a warrant, eventually bursting into the house to find clutter, garbage and 10 poorly cared for Shetland Sheepdogs.
Afterwards, authorities moved on to the pet owners’ primary residence at 4215 Bedford Avenue, where they pulled out 13 more dogs – mostly Shetlands.
According to a volunteer organization involved in the case, the dogs were underfed, anemic and flea-infested. They had also never seen a veterinarian to receive vaccinations or checkups.
The owners are being charged with at least 20 counts of cruelty to animals, according to a representative from the DA’s attorney on the scene. (CORRECTION [2/17/2012]: The DA has not yet filed charges against the couple.)
They were also given fines for various violations related to health and safety matters.
Neighbors of the Avenue Y house, which appeared to be in worse condition, told Sheepshead Bites that the couple has been hoarding the canines for approximately 20 years. However, the couple does not actually live in the Avenue Y house; it has been occupied solely by the shelties.
“They only ever go in at night,” said a neighbor. “She shows up with a big bag of dog food and feeds them.”
The house does not have gas or running water, neighbors alleged.
The immediate next door neighbor told Sheepshead Bites that the couple have kept dogs there for as long as she can remember.
“I never had any problems with the people here, but it’s horrible they had so many dogs,” said Beana Manashvily, a neighbor. She said she’s grown so used to the barking that she never notices it anymore.
The ASPCA and ACC have made multiple visits to the property, neighbors said, sometimes taking some of the dogs away, but more often never gaining access to the house.
Manashvily also noted the unsanitary conditions, adding that the dogs were never allowed to use the large backyard. Occassionally, the wife would allow them run free in the driveway. Every garbage night, she said, the wife would take out 10 to 15 heavy duty bags full of garbage. Other neighbors complained of rat problems.
The filth and clutter at the Avenue Y home caused concern for the city responders. Firefighters took precautionary measures, such as accessing the roof to look down into the home for safety reasons. A Hazardous Materials Unit also responded.
“Ever seen the show Hoarders?” asked an on-scene rep for the DA when asked about the condition of the home. “That’s what it’s like. Hoarders.”
The city has condemned the home and will be clearing it out over the next few days.
The investigation into the couple’s alleged animal abuse began at the urging of the Tri-State Shetland Sheepdog Rescue organization, a Long Island-based rescue service. According to one of the directors, Tim Makridakis, who was on scene this morning, the couple hit their radar several years ago when they rescued 21 abused shelties from another person. They found that this couple had given that man 10 dogs six years ago.
Makridakis then contacted the couple and befriended the wife. He visited multiple times, taking photos of the dog’s condition and, sometimes, convincing them to allow him to take some of the dogs to his shelter for adoption.
“I think they bred them to sell them, but then I think it became a hoarding type thing,” Makridakis said. He added that the dogs were mostly in-bred. “I showed them pictures of the [dogs we took] in their new homes, happy and healthy, but they wouldn’t let us take the rest. In their minds, they loved these dogs.”
Makridakis said he believed the dogs would all make quick and complete recoveries, as their neglect wasn’t as bad as he has seen in other cases.
“They’ll be in foster care for six months to a year,” he said. “With proper care and conditioning, they’ll be fine for adoption.”
The animals have been taken by Animal Care & Control, where they will be observed for a few days. Tri-State Shetland Sheepdog Rescue will then take custody of the dogs and put them in foster homes. Anyone interested in adopting the animals can contact the organization through their website.
This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to tips (at) sheepsheadbites (dot) com.
This is the third version of this article.