STEUBEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — What started as a 911 call about a medical issue has now led to an investigation into allegations of animal cruelty and neglect.
According to the Steuben County Sherriff’s Office, deputies responded to a call from a residence in York Township Tuesday at 4:00 a.m. When the deputies arrived, around 50-100 domesticated pets and farm animals were found in “unsuitable conditions” inside the residence with no 911 caller to be found.
The Sherriff’s Office called in the Steuben County Health Department and the Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County for help with the investigation. Local veterinarians also provided the animals with care.
Per a press release, the case still remains under investigation. Possible criminal charges may be sought through the Steuben County Prosecutor’s Office.
The homeowner is cooperating with the investigation and “voluntarily surrendered” the pets and farm animals involved. The Steuben County Sherriff’s Office learned at the time of deputy arrival the 911 caller had been picked up by a friend and taken to a Michigan hospital.
When asked for comment, Steuben County Sheriff’s Office and the Health Department both said they cannot share any additional information since the investigation is still building.
The humane shelter was also not able to speak to specifics, but according to a Facebook post from the shelter, there were 80 dogs in the home.
The shelter’s executive director Adrienne Long told WANE 15 that taking on more animals put a strain on them, as they’ve been at or over capacity for six months.
Long said it’s very difficult to operate a shelter with that many pets.
“It’s extremely difficult. It puts significant stress on our staff, on our financial resources, on the animals themselves,” she said. “When you have that many animals in one space, your transmission of disease and all those icky things that come with animals, it increases. So, just overall it’s not ideal.”
Long added that they’ve seen an uptick in adoptions and donations this week, but they can always use more help.
“The community support this week has been incredible. So, we’re extremely thankful for how involved Steuben County is with our shelter,” Long said.
Anything from a monetary donation to everyday needs such as dog and cat food, blankets or towels, and cleaning supplies such as bleach or soap can help the shelter.