HARRISVILLE - A case of animal cruelty was found in Doddridge County Sunday as more than two dozen malnourished dogs with severe mange were found abandoned by the side of a rural road.
"We received 31 dogs that were dumped near the Doddridge County line," said Ritchie County Humane Society shelter director Kitty Ray. "They are in horrible condition."
All of the 31 dogs found along Sugar Run Road are malnourished with many so severely suffering from mange they have no fur, Ray said.
The Ritchie County Humane Society is taking care of 31 small-breed dogs that were found abandoned along Sugar Run Road in Doddridge County Sunday afternoon. The dogs are malnourished and suffering from mange to the point many have lost all of their fur.
The dogs were found by two women driving to a family get-together. Twenty-one of the dogs were taken to the shelter in Harrisville by the women who gave the location where the animals were found.
The humane officers and volunteers went to the area where they found more dogs. Ray said several dogs were dead at the scene.
"This is the worst case of neglect I've ever seen," she said. "There is no excuse for the condition of these dogs."
At A Glance
Authorities in Doddridge and Ritchie counties are searching for those responsible for abandoning more than two dozen sick dogs Sunday.
Doddridge County Sheriff W.C. Underwood Jr. said he believes the people who dumped the 31 living and several dead small dogs on the side of Sugar Run Road are not from the area.
The dogs, all malnourished and suffering from mange, are being cared for by the Ritchie County Humane Society, said shelter director Kitty Ray.
All of the dogs are small breeds - chihuahuas, pugs, dachshunds and pomeranians - and some of the females are pregnant while many of the animals are several years old.
"I wouldn't be surprised if this was a case of the dogs coming from a puppy mill or animal hoarder and the people not wanting to deal with these dogs any more," Ray said.
Although the puppy mill or animal hoarder scenarios may be the case for these dogs, Doddridge County Sheriff W.C. Underwood Jr. said he believes the people who dumped the 31 living and several dead small dogs on the side of Sugar Run Road are not from the area.
"We are working on the investigation, but, truly, we are not even sure the dogs are from here," Underwood said.
Deputies with the department have gone through the scene and talked to residents in the area, but no information is coming out.
"Nobody has seen anything," Underwood said. "Anybody could have come in that area and dropped those dogs off in the night and no one would have seen or heard a thing."
Underwood and Ray said they hope to find those responsible and prosecute them for the animals' inhumane treatment.
"I would have liked for them to have been dropped off at the shelter before they got so bad," Ray said. "There is no law against dropping an animal off at a shelter, but there are laws about dumping them."
This is not the first time dogs have been found in similar condition in the area, Ray said.
"Last year about eight other dogs were found around there, but they weren't in this bad shape and there weren't as many of them," she said.
The dogs found Sunday are being cared for by the Ritchie County Humane Society and its volunteers with plenty of food and help for their skin condition.
"We've given them all baths and put some stuff on their skin to help with the discomfort from the mange," Ray said. "They are doing better, but it will be three or four months before they are well enough to be adopted."
The humane society is asking for donations to help pay for the mange medication, which is not cheap, Ray said.
Donations can be sent to the Ritchie County Humane Society, Route 1, Box 3, Harrisville, WV 26362.
Anyone with information about the abandonment of the dogs is asked to contact the Doddridge County Sheriff's Office at 304-873-1944 or the humane society at 304-643-4721.