The Toledo Area Humane Society removed 35 Shih Tzu dogs from a West Toledo home today.
Accompanied by the Toledo Police Department, the humane society executed a search warrant at 1802 Perth St. at about 10 a.m. Seventeen adult dogs and 18 puppies were seized, and they all appeared to be in good shape and were friendly.
One of the female dogs is due to have a litter any day.
George Francel, 63, was visibly upset when officers arrived, but soon calmed and cooperated with authorities.
Gary Willoughby, executive director of the humane society, said the organization first worked with Mr. Francel last fall. They were then called by a veterinarian in April regarding a dog Mr. Francel brought in for a severe ear infection.
Mr. Willoughby said Mr. Francel clearly loves the dogs, but the situation got out of hand. The dogs' living conditions were very poor and unsanitary, he said. A strong odor coming from the home could be smelled from the street.
Mr. Francel said he and his late mother began breeding the dogs about 11 years ago after she fell in love with a friend's Shih Tzu.
He said he continued breeding the dogs after she passed because he enjoyed them so much. He said he gave most of the puppies away as gifts.
"I felt that I wouldn't be doing this unless it was good and was something that was God’s will for me to do," he said. "No one in their right mind would do this unless they were called to do this, to be able to give people dogs and make them happy.”
Mr. Willoughby said the humane society has not yet decided whether to file charges against Mr. Francel. The organization is working to help connect him to appropriate services.
Some of the dogs could be returned to Mr. Francel, though likely a limited number and not until the home has been sufficiently cleaned.
“The conditions were such that we wouldn't be comfortable putting any dogs back with him until conditions improve," Mr. Willoughby said. “We definitely felt like he had more animals than he could properly care for.”