A Stanislaus Superior Court judge has given the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency ownership of more than 100 dogs confiscated from a suspected puppy factory last month.
The decision followed several days of testimony from a veterinarian, animal welfare officials and law enforcement prompted by a petition from prosecutors to take it away from the owner, who faces criminal charges.
The dogs –– French bulldogs, Dobermans and other breeds — were found in appalling conditions in two semi-detached homes on the 500 block of Roselawn Avenue in west Modesto.
Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy found 151 dogs while serving a search warrant related to a domestic violence case there on May 19. One was dead and one had to be euthanized at the scene due to illness.
Nicholas Baugh, 38, has been arrested and charged with domestic violence, as well as 15 felonies of animal cruelty – two of the cases involve improving the use of a knife – and an offense of keeping an animal without proper care in connection with 134 of the dogs.
Baugh refused to give ownership of the dogs to Animal Services, so Assistant District Attorney Tracy Griffin petitioned Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Carrie M. Stephens for the hearing, which she said would be quicker than one await administrative hearing.
According to Griffin’s petition, deputies from the Sheriff’s Department’s Special Investigation Unit found “56 dogs in small, inadequate cages, standing in their own feces with no water or food.” The petition said MPs found 96 other dogs living in similar conditions in the other unit of the duplex.
During the hearing, an animal welfare officer testified that there were Containers containing six to eight pups each.
The dogs have been treated and continue to receive treatment for parvovirus, GIardia and physical injuries, according to Ron Reid, interim executive director of the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency.
On Thursday, Judge Stephens granted Griffin’s petition and ownership of the dogs was transferred to Animal Services on Friday.
Reid said the agency immediately began placing the dogs with five different out-of-state rescue organizations and delivered the last ones on Tuesday.
He said some of the dogs were pregnant and gave birth at the shelter. He had no information on how many survived but said 23 died.
“Most were related to parvo, stillborn, or just born non-viable and didn’t make it through due to medical issues,” Reid said.
Three dogs that were part of the original 149 also died from their illnesses after arriving at the shelter.
Reid said rescues were chosen for the dogs, rather than adoptions, because of their ongoing medical needs. He said the rescuers who took the dogs had experience with the breeds, their medical issues and dogs from puppy mills.
Reid said there are still many wonderful dogs at the agency that need good homes.
With around 200 dogs in 188 kennels, the agency is still overburdened.
Baugh is on trial and remains in custody. A pre-trial for the animal abuse charge to determine if there is enough evidence to go to trial began this month and will continue in July. A preliminary hearing in the case of domestic violence has not yet started.