EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — Two dozen dogs were removed last week from a property in Exeter in what the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) is calling the largest animal cruelty case in the state this year.
“I look back at our seizures for the entire year for 2017 and we essentially seized more animals in one day than we have for the most part over the course of the year,” RISPCA’s Director of Operations Joe Warzycha said.
Warzycha said the agency rushed to the former rod and gun club on Gardner Road after a contractor filed a complaint with Exeter Animal Control.
Upon arriving at the property last Friday, the RISPCA discovered 24 dogs in tiny huts, not insulated from the cold. At the time, it was 28 degrees outside with a wind chill factor of 19 degrees, according to the RISPCA.
“Dogs had access to some form of shelter but from what we could see, it was just an empty box,” Warzycha said. “There was no bedding, no insulation, water bowls were either empty or frozen.”
Several of the dogs were also found to be living in unsanitary conditions.
The owner of the animals is remorseful, according to Warzycha, but will likely face misdemeanor charges, which carry a fine of up to $500 and up to 11 months in prison.
In total, the RISPCA took custody of 14 beagles, six Brittany spaniels and four chihuahuas. In addition, seven goats were also removed from the property.
The RISPCA said Exeter Animal Control and the Potter League for Animals assisted in seizing the animals.
Fifteen of the dogs are being housed at the RISPCA and the remaining nine are at the Potter League. All 24 are either currently up for adoption or will be within the next week.
Warzycha stressed the importance of keeping your pets warm, especially when temperatures plummet.
In the meantime, Warzycha said the phones have been ringing off the hook at the RISPCA.
“We’re inundated with complaints,” he said. “We can’t keep up with the number that we’re getting in.”