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Published: Saturday, 7/25/2009

Dead dogs found in freezer in Michigan

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DEARBORN, Mich. - Police yesterday found about 150 dead dogs packed in freezers in the basement of a Michigan house littered with feces and trash where more than 110 live dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, were rescued this week.

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said the 56-year-old man found Wednesday in the suburban Detroit home with the animals may have been living with an increasing number of dogs for up to three or four years.

"The house was in complete disarray, very cluttered and, with 100-plus dogs running around in there, very filthy," he said.

A criminal investigation was under way at the two-story brick home, Chief Haddad said. He said the case could be forwarded to prosecutors for possible animal-cruelty charges.

The chief said 112 live dogs had been removed from the home as of yesterday, and police believe about five more may be hiding inside. He declined to release details about the breed of the dead dogs.

The man living in the house was taken to a local hospital for observation. He had no health insurance and a mental impairment that stemmed from rubella as a child, and had lived for years alone in the home after his parents retired to Florida, said lawyer James G. Schmier, who was acting as a family spokesman.

"I think this is a very human story of a guy who had some very severe mental issues," Mr. Schmier said.

Neighbors had complained of an odor at the Dearborn home, which had a neatly cut lawn and manicured bushes. But this week was the first time officials got inside, and crews needed masks to breathe.

Trash was piled from floor to ceiling in places, and feces and urine were throughout the home. Forty-two ailing and feces-covered dogs were rescued Wednesday. Crews returned Thursday and found more than 60 dogs, and about 10 more were rescued yesterday, police said.

The rescued dogs were taken to the Dearborn Animal Shelter, where residents brought dog food donations and filled out pet-adoption applications. Sandra Boulton, a shelter spokesman, said most of the dogs had long nails and fleas, but they were relatively healthy.



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