County spokesman Robert Quigley said the county has taken possession of the dead dog and is “actively investigating” an abuse case.
Quigley said animal control officers first responded to a call for abandoned dogs on Cooper Landing Drive on April 15. At the time, they left a notice after they could not find the homeowners or see or hear any dogs on the scene.
Quigley said animal control officers are prohibited from entering a house without a search warrant.
On April 20, animal control returned on another call that dogs may have been abandoned but didn’t see or hear any dogs or find anybody at home, instead leaving another notice, Quigley said.
Animal control returned again on Tuesday and saw two dogs in the home. They called the home’s owner and left a voicemail.
“At that time, the dogs were not in distress,” Quigley said.
On Wednesday, animal control returned to the home and saw that the dogs were no longer there.
It turns out they had been taken by animal rescuers who found out about the dogs on Facebook from a neighbor. Noelle Galper said she and a friend were able to let the surviving animals out by simply opening the unlocked back door of the duplex.
Galper said the animals appeared to be abandoned for between a month and six weeks. She said she heard from neighbors that the home’s tenant may have come back to feed them periodically at first, but the animals did not appear to be fed for a couple of weeks.
When the rescuers opened the back door, they could see a dead Dalmatian lying near the front door, Galper said.
“Every inch of it had fecal matter,” she said. “There was blood. They were injured.”
The two surviving dogs, one a chocolate Lab and the other that appears to be a mix of a labrador retriever and a hound, are now with a rescue group. The group’s owner, who asked that she not be identified out of concern the county will confiscate the dogs for a court case, said they are recovering but appeared dehydrated and malnourished.
Galper said she was disturbed that the county didn’t act sooner.
“I’ve rescued many animals in the past and said ‘We’ve got to do something,’” she said.
Quigley said that had officers been able to see the dead dog, that likely would have been enough evidence to get a warrant. But because they couldn’t see the animal, they did all they could do.
“This is a sad situation, but there has to be a balance between private property and the county following the law, as well as animal well-being,” he said.