Bernice Robertson, 76, is charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. Authorities say she kept the dogs in unsanitary conditions. Robertson pleaded not guilty to the charge in court on Friday.
Authorities received complaints about the dogs months ago, and the case is still under investigation. NBC 4’s Elyse Chengery spoke with the veterinarian who was called in to help spay and neuter many of those animals.
Doctor Michelle Gonzales at Rascal Animal Hospital was called to the home to help spay and neuter many of those dogs back in October.
“The humane society of Athens County Dog Shelter contacted us because they have been working with this lady who was overwhelmed with dogs,” Dr. Gonzales said. “At that time, they thought that she had probably about 16 dogs.”
Rascal Animal Hospital’s mobile clinic, the Rascal Unit, went to the home to assess the animals and perform spay and neuter procedures. However, when the Rascal Unit arrived, they found more than they were expecting. What authorities thought was 16 dogs ended up being more than 40.
“Clearly the dogs did not look like they were being properly cared for as far as the sanitary conditions,” Dr. Gonzales said. “We recommended to the dog shelter to actually look into it just because hoarding is not just a problem and a concern for the pets; it’s also a concern for the individuals involved.”
Authorities returned to Robertson’s home with a search warrant and found that Robertson was hording 100 dogs inside.
“The majority of them were small but not teeny tiny little dogs and it was difficult to walk through not just because of the smells and that kind of stuff but just the amount of clutter and then dogs literally everywhere,” Dr. Gonzales said. She hopes the dogs will have the opportunity to be adopted if Robertson decides to surrender them or if the court orders her to do so.
Dr. Gonzales said the 100 dogs are currently at the Athens County Dog Shelter. Robertson’s next court date is Friday, Jan. 19.